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What You Need To Know About Ebola Virus Infection

Washington Hospital Enhances Training, Safety Measures To Prepare

The recent issues regarding Ebola in the United States have prompted healthcare facilities to examine their own plans for Ebola preparedness. Washington Hospital is working diligently to prepare for all possible scenarios related to Ebola.

Ebola virus has existed in West Africa for decades with small periodic outbreaks. Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) results in a hemorrhagic febrile illness with gastrointestinal symptoms with a 40 to 70 percent mortality rate.

As of the time of this publication, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of EVD under investigation in California, including Washington Hospital in Fremont. The current outbreak is limited to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to U.S. statistics, 94 percent of persons from these countries who travel to the U.S. enter through five airports (but not SFO or San Jose airports). Screening procedures are now in place at major airports, and at ports of exit in affected countries. At the present time, the risk of a patient with EVD arriving at Washington Hospital is low.

While the risk to the Fremont area is low, as an organization Washington Hospital is on alert and have been working hard for weeks to ensure they are adequately prepared should a patient present with symptoms of the EVD.

As a community-based hospital, Washington Hospital feels strongly that they have an obligation to identify, isolate and provide quality care for any patient who enters their doors; and to protect and prevent exposure to their staff, patients and visitors from any communicable disease.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) have been working to help prepare health care facilities to safely care for any patients with suspected Ebola virus disease,” says Dr. Dianne Martin, an infectious disease specialist and co-chair of the Infection Prevention and Control Committee at Washington Hospital.

“The CDC has announced that it is establishing an Ebola response team so that whenever there's a confirmed case anywhere in the country, they will put an expert team on the ground within hours," Dr. Martin explains.

In addition, the CDC is considering establishing isolation “biocontainment” units to handle Ebola cases at additional hospitals around the country.

Dr. Martin states, “Every hospital needs to be prepared to recognize potential Ebola virus infections and follow the proper protocols for providing patient care”.

“Here at Washington Hospital, we have established a task force of about 30 people from multiple disciplines throughout the hospital to address concerns about Ebola virus disease,” she adds. “We are trying to alert the public about Ebola, and we have been educating staff as to proper treatment protocols. We are asking patients to be sure to tell health care workers if they have any symptoms of Ebola virus infection or have traveled to or from areas where Ebola infections have occurred.”

Washington Hospital also has acquired the proper clothing and equipment for treating patients with Ebola virus infection, Dr. Martin notes.

“We now have fluid-impermeable jumpsuits that look a bit like footie-pajamas or spacesuits, which health care providers step into and zip up,” she says. “We also are training staff to practice proper patient care techniques. Last spring, we switched to a cleaning solution that is considered to be effective against Ebola virus as well as other infectious organisms such as norovirus and enterovirus.”

In addition, Washington Hospital is following CDC guidance for managing suspected cases of Ebola virus infection. The hospital has also held a conference call with the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Dr. Martin says, “As soon as we complete our comprehensive staff training, we will conduct an extensive preparedness drill.

Facts About Ebola

Dr. Martin stresses that it is important for people in the community to learn about Ebola virus infections and not mistake “myths” for the facts about Ebola. The following information, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can help you learn more about Ebola and how to protect yourself from this potentially deadly disease.


Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:

  • Blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • Objects such as needles and syringes that have been contaminated with the virus
  • Infected animals

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.


Symptoms of Ebola virus infection may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus, but the average length of time before symptoms appear is 8 to 10 days. Symptoms of Ebola infection may include:

  • Fever greater than 101.5°F
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)


There is no FDA-approved vaccine available, as yet, for preventing Ebola virus infection. If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:

• Practice careful hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.

• Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles and medical equipment).

Learn More

For up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about Ebola virus disease, visit

For updates about Ebola virus from the California Department of Public Health, visit and click on the link for “CDPH Ebola Virus Information Page.”

For information from around the world about Ebola virus, visit the World Health Organization Web site at