Lurie Children's is working diligently to ensure our staff and facilities are equipped to handle patients with Ebola. Please review the information below to learn more about the virus and what we're doing to protect our patients.
How the Ebola Virus Spreads
Ebola is not as contagious as the flu because it doesn’t spread through the air. Ebola is spread only through direct contact with the infected person’s blood and body fluids (vomit, urine, diarrhea, saliva, sweat, tears, semen, etc.).
Direct contact means that infected body fluids enter through another individual’s mouth, eyes, nose or cuts in the skin. This can happen through touching these fluids or contaminated objects and then touching the mouth, eyes, nose or broken skin.
After direct contact with the body fluids of a contagious person, symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days, but most people get sick in 8 to 10 days.
People with Ebola are contagious only when they start showing symptoms:
- Fever (greater than 38.6º C or 101.5º F) is the earliest symptom
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Intense weakness
- Diarrhea and vomiting, usually beginning 6 to 8 days after fever starts
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Currently, the Ebola virus outbreak is only in three West African countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. U.S. airports now check the temperature of people traveling from these countries.
There is no evidence that insects can transmit Ebola. Also, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola or spreading the virus.
Treatment for People with Ebola
Recovery from Ebola depends on excellent supportive clinical care, including intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes, and the patient’s immune response. There is no available vaccine or effective antiviral medication, and only limited experimental therapies. People who recover from Ebola develop immunity for at least ten years.
American Hospitals are Preparing to Treat Patients with Ebola
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approached about 20 hospitals across the county to serve as regional Ebola treatment centers. Lurie Children’s is one of the four Chicago hospitals that will care for patients who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The other Ebola treatment centers in our area are Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Our planning effort with these hospitals is coordinated through the Chicago Department of Public Health and the CDC.
Lurie Children’s Preparations
Safety is our primary goal. Lurie Children’s preparations aim to ensure the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff. We have developed screening processes and identified isolation spaces for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola. We are training all staff who may be involved in their care on the use of recommended personal protective equipment and correct protocols. We are working closely with the CDC and the local public health agencies to ensure that we use the most up-to-date guidelines.
To learn more about how Lurie Children's has prepared, view our Ebola Fact Sheet.
For more information on Ebola, visit the CDC website.