EMTprep Free Training Materials


What is Ebola?

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Ebola or (Ebola Virus Disease) is a series of 5 viruses that infect primates of which four affect humans. These are Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, Bundigyo ebolavirus, and Reston ebolavirus that does not affect humans. It was originally found along the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is thought to be spread by bats and then transmitted to primates.

How is it transmitted?

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It is thought that the initial transmission occurs through contact with an infected animal such as a bat or primate. From there it spreads from person to person through contact with bodily fluids. This can happen from touching an object with bodily fluids on it, or direct contact with bodily fluids that get in through broken skin or mucus membranes. This includes blood, saliva, urine, sweat, feces, vomit, breastmilk, or semen of someone who is sick with or died from Ebola, syringes or needles that were used on someone with Ebola, infected bats or primates, or semen from someone who has recovered from Ebola. It does not spread if they do not have signs or symptoms of Ebola. It has been found that Ebola can remain in fluids after someone has recovered, but it is not yet determined how long.

What are the signs/symptoms of Ebola?

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Signs and Symptoms of Ebola include: Fever, Headache, Muscle Pain, Weakness, Fatigue, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Abdominal Pain, or Unexplained hemorrhage. They typically occur 2-21 days after contact with virus with the most common incubation period being 8-10 days.

How can you prevent contracting/spreading Ebola?

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You can prevent the spread of Ebola by washing your hands well with soap and water, avoiding contact with bodily fluids or items that may have bodily fluids on them, avoiding contact with bats or primates, contact with semen of someone who has or had Ebola, or funerals or burial rituals that involve handling a body of someone who died from Ebola. In December 2019, the first vaccine rVSV-ZEBO, was approved for use in the United States

How do you treat Ebola?

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Right now Ebola is mostly treated with supportive care such as IV fluids with electrolytes for the vomiting and diarrhea, Oxygen if they are hypoxic, treat infections, provide anti-emetics, and blood pressure support if it drops. In the field we have Dopamine and Epinephrine if needed. You can also use antipyretics for fever, and treat the pain.

How is Ebola diagnosed?

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Right now it is diagnosed by the combination of symptoms and known exposure to an Ebola patient in the last 2-21 days. They are isolated and blood samples are drawn to look for the virus. The virus level may not be detectable until 3 days after symptoms start.

How can you prepare for an Ebola outbreak?

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You can prepare for an Ebola outbreak by early recognition and infection control. Have ways to isolate patients, practice good hand hygiene, avoid touching bodily fluids without gloves on, and review the signs and symptoms of Ebola.

What is appropriate PPE for managing a suspected Ebola patient?

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If you have a suspected Ebola patient you will want to put on a pair of gloves, then a gown that is not permeable to liquids, and then a second pair of gloves over that, then put on a surgical mask and face shield to avoid getting any bodily fluids in your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Are there any special steps that should be taken when transporting an Ebola patient?

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Yes, you should advise the hospital when you are transporting a suspected Ebola patient so that they will have a room immediately available for you to place the patient into to attempt to isolate them and keep it from spreading. Once you have dropped your patient off it is important to thoroughly clean every surface the patient may have had contact with an EPA approved hospital grade disinfectant that is rated for noneveloped viruses. If the patient is having large amounts of diarrhea then try to wrap them up in a nonpermeable blanket to keep it from getting on surfaces, if they are vomiting then give them a biohazard bag to vomit in, and try to limit the number of people who are caring for the patient, the person driving should have no contact with the patient, and consider using a minimum of needles and consider using oral medications.

Are there any special precautions that need to be taken when cleaning the ambulance after transporting a suspected Ebola patient?

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Yes, you should wear the two pairs of gloves, gown, mask, and face shield when wiping down the ambulance to avoid contact with possibly infectious material. If there is blood or vomit that needs to be cleaned then you may need more disinfectant to overcome the proteins and in that case a spray disinfectant may be preferable. If you used a reusable blood pressure cuff or CBG monitor it should be bagged in a biohazard bag and then cleaned according to manufacturers specifications. Use single use items if at all possible and only use pillows that are plastic and impermeable. If the pillow has a tear then properly dispose of it in a biohazard bag, along with any clothes or linens that were used on the patient. Do not put them into the general laundry.