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Ebola Outbreak FAQs

The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) monitored the outbreak and offered Testimony concerning the US government response. In the event of an Ebola outbreak in the US, the AA​P urges its Chapter leaders to work with state health departments to ensure that decisions on school closures and other situations reflect the unique health, psychosocial, and educational needs of children. A strategic response to combat the outbreak was proposed by the White House, and the Administration provides updates on the US Response.

Ebola virus disease is a rare, deadly disease caused by infection with any of five Ebola virus strains. Signs and symptoms of Ebola include fever and severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising. Signs and symptoms may appear from 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8 to 10 days is most common. The risk of transmission is low. Becoming infected requires direct, physical contact with the bodily fluids (vomit, feces, urine, blood, semen, etc) of people who have been infected with or died from the Ebola virus disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers regular Outbreak Updates and an Outbreak Distribution Map. The World Health Organization provides Global Alert and Response details. US health care providers should be aware of CDC resources on infection prevention, health care provider safety, and specimen collection recommendations. See information for Clinicians in US Health Care Settings. Information for parents is available on the AAP HealthyChildren Web site "Ebola: What Parents Need to Know" and “Ebola, Enterovirus D68 & Flu: Strategies for Child Care, Schools”.

US health care providers are encouraged to:

  • Stay up to date on the latest information about risk factors, signs, symptoms, and diagnostic testing for Ebola.
  • Increase vigilance in inquiring about a history of travel to West Africa in the 21 days before illness onset for any patient presenting with fever or other symptoms consistent with Ebola.
  • Understand what to do if they suspect a patient has Ebola symptoms (isolate the patient, follow standard contact and droplet precautions for these patients, and review protocols for diagnosis/laboratory testing and treatment).
  • Immediately notify the local/state health department if the patient has travel history and symptoms.
  • Know who to notify in their facility after an unprotected exposure (i.e. not wearing recommended Personal Protective Equipment at the time of patient contact or through direct contact with blood or body fluids) to a suspected or confirmed Ebola patient.
  • Know how and where to seek medical evaluation following an unprotected exposure.

Health care personnel and health officials are advised to increase vigilance, review isolation procedures and guidance for contacting the local/statement health department. See Evaluating Patients for Possible Ebola Virus Disease: Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel and Health Officials. Also see the CDC Guidance on Personal Protective Equipment To Be Used by Healthcare Workers.

Emergency Medical Services
Up to date information on Ebola cases confirmed in the US can be found here. The emergency care community is urged to take steps to ensure that they are able to protect, detect, and respond to Ebola. Screening criteria should be posted and used in all emergency departments, ambulances, and other "first contact" locations.

For Those Who Wish to Travel to Affected Countries
The AAP does not endorse nor approve any particular means of traveling to or volunteering in West Africa. The security and safety of members is a high priority, and members are urged to educate themselves about the reality of travel details, security issues, liability insurance, living conditions, personal risks, and details regarding the provision of medical care in austere conditions. It is important that health care professionals carry copies of licenses and board certifications when traveling, as well as become knowledgeable about documentation needed when taking medicines into a foreign country.


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