Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Three imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States.
According to Time magazine's November 17 edition, while the US may only have seen a handful of Ebola cases, the virus is still one of the top three health worries for Americans, according to a new Gallup survey.
It is important that dental healthcare workers:
understand the science of Ebola and that is is spread through direct contact (e.g., through broken skin or through mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with EVD or with objects like needles/syringes that have been contaminated with the virus,
appreciate the low level of risk in dentistry,
review infection control policies and procedures and
be prepared to address any transmissible disease including influenza and other diseases that are more likely to present in a dental practice.
OSAP, in cooperation with the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a webinar on EVD for dentistry. Click on the Instructional Resources Table below to access this important educational program.
(1) A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. Signs and symptoms of Ebola include fever (greater than 38°C or 100.4°F) and severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.
The virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood and body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the virus. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food.
(2) Five MMWR Publications addressing lessons learned in Africa and the US were released on November 14. Click HERE to access.
What does this emerging disease mean to dentistry?
While it is unlikely that a patient suffering from Ebola will present at a dental office, dental healthcare workers should stay on top of the Ebola situation by keeping abreast of the latest news developments and ensure that all patients receive a medical history, including a travel history.
Click HERE for 3 tips for the oral healthcare profession on Ebola.
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