What You Need to Know
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of the Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States in Dallas, some are worried about an outbreak reaching Oklahoma.
Concern is understandable, but with proper precautions, the risk of Ebola spreading is low, said Oklahoma City-County Health Department epidemiologist Cynthia Harry.
The Ebola virus isn't spread through the air, like a cold virus. It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the bodily secretions of someone exhibiting the symptoms of the virus, she said.
The symptoms of the Ebola virus include:
- Intense weakness
- Severe headache
- Joint and muscle pain
- Sore throat
As the disease progresses, patients may develop vomiting, diarrhea, rash, loss of kidney and liver function and can experience internal and external hemorrhaging.
It's our job in public health to be able to quickly detect, respond and control any outbreak in our community, said OCCHD Executive Director Gary Cox. This is a 24/7 effort to protect our community.
Partnerships are key, said Cox. OCCHD continuously works with local hospitals to monitor any real-time emergency room cases who may present to our local EDs and has been working with first responders and healthcare providers to spread the latest guidance from the CDC. OCCHD also has protocols in place for monitoring individuals outside the hospital who are not ill but have come from Ebola outbreak countries.
The Ebola virus does not spread easily if appropriate prevention measures are used, Harry said. The kind of common sense techniques we use to avoid the flu or a cold can also greatly reduce the risk of contracting this virus."
Wash your hands frequently. One of the most important preventive measures for all infectious diseases is frequent hand-washing. Use soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water aren't available.
Avoid areas of known outbreaks. At this time, travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Mali is discouraged. Before traveling to Africa, find out about the most current epidemics by checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Avoid contact with infected people. Caregivers should avoid contact with the person's body fluids and tissues, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. People with Ebola are most contagious in the later stages of the disease.
Follow infection-control procedures. If you're a health care worker, wear protective clothing, such as gloves, masks, gowns and eye shields. Keep infected people isolated from others. Dispose of needles and sterilize other instruments.
The chances of an outbreak are very low, said Harry. Health departments, including OCCHD and hospitals across the country have been preparing for the virus since it reemerged in Africa.
It's important to remember that the healthcare system in the U.S. has the resources and the know-how to contain Ebola, she said. Airports are looking for people exhibiting the signs of the virus in order to prevent more exposure.
- Ebola Patient Travel Poster
- Ebola Patient Travel Poster Espanol
- Ebola Patient Travel Poster Franais
- Ebola Clinician Decision Algorithm
- Ebola Healthcare Provider Poster
Additional Resource Links
- CDC Q&A
- Ebola Personal Protective Equipment
- Travelers From Mali
- CDC Don/Doff Instructional Video for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for Hospital Personnel
- CDC US Hospital Preparedness
- US Department of Health and Human Services: Ebola Press Release December 2014
- Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for Management of Patients Who Present With Possible Ebola Virus Disease in the United States
The Ebola Information Hotline is open to the general public.
The hotline number is (405) 419-4111. For general information please view the Ebola Fact Sheet.