Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola HF) (cont.)
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How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever clinically diagnosed?
Diagnosing Ebola HF in an individual who has been infected only a few days is difficult because early symptoms, such as red eyes and a skin rash, are nonspecific to the virus and are seen in other patients with diseases that occur much more frequently. However, if a person has the constellation of symptoms described above, and infection with Ebola virus is suspected, isolate the patient and notify local and state health departments and the CDC.
What laboratory tests are used to diagnose Ebola hemorrhagic fever?
Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing, IgM ELISA, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and virus isolation can be used to diagnose a case of Ebola HF within a few days of the onset of symptoms. Persons tested later in the course of the disease or after recovery can be tested for IgM and IgG antibodies; the disease can also be diagnosed retrospectively in deceased patients by using immunohistochemistry testing, virus isolation, or PCR.
How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever treated?
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There is no standard treatment for Ebola HF. Patients receive supportive therapy. This consists of balancing the patient's fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections.
How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever prevented?
The prevention of Ebola HF in Africa presents many challenges. Because the identity and location of the natural reservoir of Ebola virus are unknown, there are few established primary prevention measures.
If cases of the disease do appear, current social and economic conditions often favor the spread of an epidemic within health-care facilities. Therefore, health-care providers must be able to recognize a case of Ebola HF should one appear. They must also have the capability to perform diagnostic tests and be ready to employ practical viral hemorrhagic fever isolation precautions, or barrier nursing techniques. These techniques include the wearing of protective clothing, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles; the use of infection-control measures, including complete equipment sterilization; and the isolation of Ebola HF patients from contact with unprotected persons. The aim of all of these techniques is to avoid any person's contact with the blood or secretions of any patient. If a patient with Ebola HF dies, it is equally important that direct contact with the body of the deceased patient be prevented.
CDC has developed a set of tools to meet health-care facilities' needs. In conjunction with the World Health Organization, CDC has developed practical, hospital-based guidelines, entitled Infection Control for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers In the African Health Care Setting. The manual describes how to recognize cases of viral hemorrhagic fever, such as Ebola HF, and prevent further nosocomial transmission by using locally available materials and few financial resources. Similarly, a practical diagnostic test that uses tiny samples from patients' skin has been developed to retrospectively diagnose Ebola HF in suspected case-patients who have died.
Reviewed on 7/31/2012
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