CDC Offers Ebola Guidance for Health Care Providers

CDC Offers Ebola Guidance for Health Care Providers


In the wake of the first confirmed case of a patient being diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering information on Ebola diagnosis and management for health care providers, including testing protocol.

According to health officials, the virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola; however, Ebola virus is detected in blood only after the onset of symptoms, usually fever. According to the CDC's website, it may take up to three days after symptoms appear for the virus to reach detectable levels. The virus is usually detectable by real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay from three to 10 days after symptoms begin. (general public information)

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is urging all health care professionals to assist in our country’s response to the Ebola outbreak and to be ready and aware to help control the spread of Ebola domestically.

Early recognition is critical to controlling the spread of Ebola virus. Specifically, healthcare providers should be ready to:

  • Detect: Ask All Patients with Non-Specific Complaints About Recent Travel
    A travel history should be taken as early as possible in your encounter with all patients. Although the signs and symptoms of Ebola are nonspecific (e.g., fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), Ebola can be virtually eliminated from your differential by ruling out travel to the affected area.
  • Protect: Use Good Infection Control Practices
    Consistent and correct use of personal protective equipment, frequent hand washing and proper decontamination of surfaces and equipment are key to reducing or eliminating the transmission of Ebola and other communicable diseases (e.g., HIV, influenza, hepatitis, and Enterovirus-D68).
  • Respond: Have a Plan
    All health care workers should know what to do when encountering a suspected Ebola patient. It is critical to know who to notify and to make that notification immediately. Remember, Ebola is a nationally notifiable disease.  All persons suspected of having Ebola should be reported immediately to your local public health department.

Webinar Recording Available on Ebola Preparedness

A recording of a recent webinar hosted by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and CDC on Ebola preparedness for the U.S. health care system is now available for on-demand playback. The webinar focused on the CDC's Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness, which highlights the activities that all hospitals can take to prepare for the possibility of a patient exposed to Ebola arriving for medical care. The checklist provides practical and specific suggestions to ensure hospitals can detect possible Ebola cases, protect their employees, and respond appropriately.

For the most updated information guidance documents on the 2014 Ebola outbreak and response, visit the CDC Ebola website. See the California Department of Public Health website for additional information, including laboratory testing and California-specific reporting requirements. In addition, the CDC Emergency Operations Center is always available at (770) 488-7100 or

(Updated 10/7/2014)