Villanova University’s Robert J. Leggiadro, M. D., professor of Biology, and previously Senior Associate, Quality Improvement at the American College of Physicians; Medical Director, Vaccines, with Pfizer, and Senior Hospitalist at North Shore-LIJ Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, is available for media comments surrounding Ebola and what Americans need to know about the disease.
Dr. Leggiardo offers the following initial thoughts:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided detailed guidelines for evaluating U.S. patients suspected of having Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). All healthcare providers should immediately report patients with fever, and symptoms compatible with EVD who also have a history of travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia during the 3 weeks prior to illness onset to the local health department. In addition to the sudden onset of fever, EVD symptoms include malaise, muscle aches, severe headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hemorrhagic symptoms, multi-organ dysfunction, shock and death may occur later. The case fatality rate ranges from 40% to 90%. Hospitals in the U.S. can safely manage EVD by following recommended infection control precautions, including standard, contact and droplet precautions. CDC has issued updated guidance on infection control available at cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/infection-prevention-and-control-recommendations.html. In outbreak settings, Ebola is typically first spread to humans after contact with infected wildlife and is then spread person-to-person through contact with bodily fluids such as, but not limited to, blood, urine, sweat, semen and breast milk. It is not spread through casual contact. The incubation period is usually 8-10 days (ranges from 2-21 days), Patients can transmit the virus while febrile and through later stages of the disease, as well as postmortem. Diagnostic testing is available through public health agencies. There is no approved treatment or vaccine