West Africa Ebola Outbreak 2013-2014: Disease, Treatments, and Global Impact

Jill E. Weatherhead, MD; Laila Woc-Colburn, MD

Disclosures

February 03, 2015

In This Article

Control of Ebola Outbreaks

Transmission of Ebola is stopped by early diagnosis, contact tracing, patient isolation, appropriate use of PPE, and safe burial practices.[5,6] Contact tracing has been shown to be effective if cases are followed for 21 days after exposure. Moving exposed patients with symptoms from the home or community to designated area of isolation has also proven to be successful in control efforts.[5,9]

Standard, contact, and droplet precautions for hospitalized patients and personal protection for healthcare workers are also essential control measures.[2] Although no studies have documented airborne transmission, N95 respirators or powered air-purifying respirators are currently recommended by the CDC and WHO for further protection.[2]

For healthcare workers specifically, ensuring access to PPE and providing adequately trained staff have been shown to prevent nosocomial infections among this population.[6] Additional control measures have emphasized safe burial practices. Some of the cultural burial practices that place individuals at high risk for transmission include close contact with the deceased person through washing, kissing, or touching the body. In attempt to slow transmission, sanitary burials, including disinfecting the body and enclosure of the body in a body bag, are being implemented.[6,9]

There are currently no approved vaccine or medication prophylaxis options for Ebola exposure; thus, prevention of spread through control measures is critical.[1] However, new therapeutic options are in the discovery phase and are being expedited to aid in the current epidemic.

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