Face Ebola With Education, Not Fear

Addison Internists Help Patients Calm Ebola Fears

ebola virus symptoms doctorDallas healthcare has been national news since a patient diagnosed with Ebola died on October 8th at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital. The victim was the first confirmed U.S. case of the Ebola virus disease, now called the largest global epidemic in history by the World Health Organization (WHO). With Dallas doctors, including the experienced internists at Addison Internal Medicine, following recommended precautions to control infection, there is no reason for undue anxiety regarding public health.

What Is Ebola?

Known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, this rare and deadly disease has been mostly found in or related to: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Spain, Mali, Senegal and now the United States (Dallas and New York City). Some fears surrounding Ebola may be due the media’s coverage of the mortality rate (about 50% recover), lack of vaccine and speed with which the illness may progress.

Symptoms can appear within 2 to 21 days after exposure, depending on the strength of the individual’s immune system. Signs of Ebola infection are similar to the flu, but not spread in the same way. Ebola symptoms may include:

  • Fever of 100.4F degrees or higher
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Sudden unexplained bruising or bleeding

Despite the high-profile nature of the Ebola story, doctors emphasize that common strains of influenza have the potential to cause many more fatalities (more than 50,000 in the U.S. this year alone). Fortunately, flu vaccines are readily available to help prevent this illness.

Control the Spread of Disease

Anyone suffering symptoms such as those listed above should be seen by a doctor immediately. Minimize your contact with others as much as possible, especially if you know you have been in direct contact with a person at risk for Ebola.

This rare virus is transmitted through bodily fluids coming in contact with broken skin or mucus membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. Ebola can be passed via saliva, vomit, tears, feces, sweat, breast milk or semen.  Avoid items of clothing, linens or syringes that have been in contact with an Ebola patient. Keep in mind, you cannot catch the Ebola virus through the air, water or food.

Health officials including those at the Dallas County Medical Society assure the public that Dallas-area school children are not at risk. Schools are not closing and there is no need for any “deep cleaning” of buildings or buses. Waste disposal from hospitals or clinics treating Ebola poses no danger to the local sewer system or water supply.

The CDC recommends preventative measures such as:

  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Cover nose and mouth with tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces (countertops, doorknobs, faucet handles, toys)
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick

Doctors’ Assess Ebola-Type Symptoms

The actual threat of Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, however, according to medical authorities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WHO and the American Medical Association.

According to the CDC, the highest risk for contracting Ebola is among health care workers and the family and friends exposed to an infected patient. Since the first was case reported in Dallas, there have only been two other locally-acquired cases – both nurses who recovered after treatment.

To date, more than a dozen people who came in contact with the first victim have been tested and monitored for symptoms. Public health officials continue to educate doctors and nurses on the best ways to screen potential Ebola patients.

By following strict safety measures, your internal medicine doctors at Addison Internal Medicine work to avoid the spread of infection and provide high-quality medical care for everyone visiting our practice. One of the first things we ask of a patient with potential Ebola symptoms is whether they have traveled to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, or have been in contact with an Ebola patient in the 21 days before becoming ill.

Our medical team at Addison Internal Medicine pays strict attention to assessment procedures to protect our patients as well as our staff members. For example, at-risk patients are isolated from others in the office, and health care workers wear approved personal protective equipment.  If a patient screens positive for Ebola, local health officials and emergency response are notified immediately.

Our internists and nursing staff put patient care above all else. We work to provide a calm, efficient atmosphere where everyone’s health will be comprehensively assessed without prejudice. Adequate training and education combine to reduce any worries you may have about potential Ebola virus outbreaks in the greater Dallas area. Our doctors continue to rely on facts to calm fears about this hot-button issue in the news.

For more information about our internal medicine specialists, or to schedule an appointment, call 972-301-7060 or contact us online.