What you need to know about Ebola

The risk of Ebola virus occurrence in Minnesota is low, despite continued news coverage.

While the tragic outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa continues to generate media attention, there have been no new cases of the virus in the United States, and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reports the risk in Minnesota is low.

However, Fairview is continuing to monitor health alerts issued locally and nationally. In the unlikely event that the need arises, we are prepared to implement plans for dealing with patients with suspected Ebola virus.

What is it?

Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids or by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.

Symptoms may include sudden onset of fever and malaise, achiness, headache, vomiting or diarrhea.

Keep in mind, Ebola is one of several serious infections that can be acquired during international travel. Travelers to other parts of the world face various risks, including:

  • MERS from the Middle East
  • Avian Flu from Asia and other parts of the world
  • Chikungunya from the Caribbean

Any patient with a possible infectious disease will be asked about his or her travel history, and special screening tools and precautions may be used.

Guidance for travelers

Many Minnesota residents may travel to or have relatives visit from West Africa.

Although the incubation period for Ebola can be as long as 21 days, neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the MDH recommend that people refrain from going back to work after travel to these countries.

However, pay attention to your own health after returning from West Africa and follow these guidelines from the CDC:

  1. Monitor your health for 10 days if you were in an area with an Ebola outbreak but were not in contact with blood or body fluids, items that have come in contact with blood or body fluids, animals or raw meat, or hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.
  2. Monitor your health for 21 days if you think you might have been exposed to Ebola.
  3. Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes.
  4. Call ahead and tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms before you visit a clinic or emergency department. Advance notice will help your doctor care for you and protect other people at the clinic or emergency department.

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