Lakeview Health System
Ebola FAQ
EBOLA BASICS  

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a type of virus. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the other in a remote area of Sudan. 

Where is Ebola most prevalent?
The outbreak is concentrated in several countries of West Africa, which is why concerns are highest for people who have visited these countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an outbreak of Ebola has been ongoing in Liberia since March 2014. 

SYMPTOMS
 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually start 8 to 10 days after coming into contact with the Ebola virus. However, someone can get sick as early as two days to as long as three weeks after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms include:
  • a fever of at least 100.4 degrees
  • feeling very tired
  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • body aches
  • bleeding
  • vomiting

RISK

What are the chances that I will get Ebola?
The risk is very low that a person will become infected with Ebola according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Two things need to be present in order to be affected:
  • A person must have direct contact with infected blood or body fluids (vomit, urine, feces and other fluids);
  • That person must have a cut on their skin or touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
Who is at risk for Ebola disease?
Despite all the media coverage, the risk is very low for people in the U.S. The people who are at highest risk are those who care for someone who has Ebola, do not use recommended protective equipment properly and come in contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit or diarrhea.

TRANSMISSION  

How does Ebola spread?

Two things need to be present in order to be affected: a person must have direct contact with infected blood or body fluids that may contain blood such as diarrhea. In order to become infected the person must have a cut on their skin or touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands first.

Can Ebola be spread by a cough or sneeze?

No. Ebola is not an airborne disease. You can’t get Ebola through air, water or food.

TREATMENT AND PROGNOSIS

How is Ebola treated?

Any treatments for Ebola are experimental. There are no approved medications or vaccines to treat the disease. However, a person with Ebola can be treated by:
  • giving them fluids
  • maintaining blood pressure
  • replacing lost blood
  • other measures to help a person’s body fight infection.
The sooner a person seeks medical care, the better their chance is of surviving.

Are you screening patients?
Yes. Our appointment center and CareLine are asking callers if they have traveled outside the U.S. in the past month. If you have traveled to any country where Ebola has been reported a nurse will ask about symptoms and travel. We also ask about travel history at our clinics, urgent care, and emergency departments.

In addition, the U.S. government has added another layer of screening at five airports that receive more than 94 percent of travelers from West Africa. The airports are Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O'Hare, John F. Kennedy, and Atlanta international airports. Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will be observed for signs of illness and trained medical staff will take their temperature. In addition, the CDC has implemented an active monitoring program for any person entering the United States from these Ebola-affected nations, and these travelers will be asked to carry out daily self-checks for fever and provide contact details of friend or family for the entirety of the virus’s 21-day incubation period. More details can be
found here.

What is the response plan if a patient tests positive for Ebola?  
All hospitals will continue to be prepared to detect, isolate and initiative care for suspected Ebola patients. Should a case of Ebola be confirmed, the patient will then be transferred to one of these four designated hospitals.
The Minnesota Hospital Association has designated four hospitals and health systems from around the state that will care for confirmed Ebola patients. These designated hospitals are:

  • Allina Health’s Unity Hospital in Fridley
  • University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview Riverside Campus in Minneapolis
  • Mayo Clinic Rochester Hospital, St. Mary’s Campus
  • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus  

My friend/family member works in a HealthPartners or Park Nicollet hospital or clinic. Do you have enough personal protection equipment?

Yes, all of our clinics and hospitals have enough personal protective equipment, and we are working with state and federal agencies to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect health care workers.

I think I’ve been exposed to Ebola, what should I do?
Because Ebola is not spread through the air, it is very unlikely you will get sick unless you have traveled Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in West Africa and were directly interacting with an infected person’s blood or body fluid without the proper protective equipment. However, if you are concerned about your health, you can always call the HealthPartners or Park Nicollet CareLine.  

PREVENTION
 

What should I do if I have to travel overseas?

It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor or a travel medicine clinic about where you will be traveling and what precaution you will need. You can also check the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for information about any disease outbreaks.

What should I do if I feel sick after I have traveled?

If you have a fever, headache, muscle aches and are very tired within three to four weeks after traveling, you should call the CareLine at 612-339-3663 or 800-551-0859.   It is much more likely that you will have a common illness such as pneumonia or a tropical disease such as malaria than Ebola, but it is a good idea to check.

Where can I get more information?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Minnesota Department of Health