Health Officials Revise Ebola Treatment Protocol

CDC tightens Ebola infection control guidance for health workers caring for Ebola patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) While treating a Liberian man infected with Ebola, two Dallas nurses became infected with the virus. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tightened its guidelines for Ebola treatment.

The past guidelines were modeled on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines meant for use in more remote places by health workers with less training, according to Yahoo! News.

In a Monday press briefing, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said US Ebola experts have vetted the guidelines, which are meant to keep health workers safer through three main principles.

"The first is prior to working with Ebola patients, anyone who is going to work with them must be repeatedly trained in and demonstrate competency performing all of the things that they're going to need to do, specifically putting on and taking off proper personal protective equipment or PPE," Dr. Frieden said.

PPE refers to clothing and gear meant to protect health workers from viruses and other infections when treating patients. In the CDC's revised treatment guidelines, the second and third main principles also address PPE.

"Second, no skin may be exposed when PPE is worn and third, every step of every time a health care worker puts on and takes off personal protective equipment they must be supervised by a trained observer who documents proper completion of established PPE protocols," Dr. Frieden said.

The old guidelines allowed for some skin to be exposed while treating Ebola patients. Some believe this exposed skin could be the reason health workers have become infected during this outbreak.

Dr. Frieden said that, in addition to a trained observer for PPE protocol, the new guidelines recommend site managers who can ensure all proper precautions are in place.

Dr. Frieden also emphasized the importance of prompt patient screening for Ebola to prevent further spread of the virus.

"Any time you have a patient with fever or other signs of infection, ask where they've been for the past 21 days," Dr. Frieden said. "If they've been in Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone then you need to get help and we have an outline of what's done in that situation."

Those three countries have been the hardest hit in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. More than 4,500 people have died in this outbreak, WHO reports. Health workers need to know where patients have been in the past 21 days because that's how long Ebola can take to show symptoms in patients.

Ebola can cause Ebola virus disease. This often fatal disease is marked by symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. The virus can only be transmitted through contact with infected body fluids like blood. 


Review Date: 
October 21, 2014
Last Updated:
October 22, 2014