3 new federal guidelines to contain the Ebola virus

Stricter guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for healthcare workers treating the Ebola virus center on three key principles, according to new guidance from the agency.

The new recommendations come days after the agency implemented new protocols following confirmation that two nurses who treated the country's first Ebola patient contracted the deadly virus. The guidance reflects insights from the safe treatment of patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and Nebraska Medical Center, and has three primary components:

  • Zero skin exposure when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Extensive training to ensure all healthcare workers demonstrate competency that they can safely wear, put on and remove PPE

  • Supervision by a trained monitor when healthcare workers put on and remove PPE 

The three hospitals, which have treated Ebola patients without further transmission of the virus, follow these principles, according to the CDC guidance.

Although the new guidelines are meant to contain the spread of disease among healthcare workers and the public, a new study finds that as many as three Ebola-infected patients a month from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea--the three countries most devastated by the outbreak--could take overseas flights. The research, published in The Lancet, however, assumed no exit screenings in the countries' airports. Exit screenings are currently in place, but the researchers maintain that their conclusion is still valid, as these screenings can miss patients who are not yet symptomatic.

"Decision-makers must carefully balance the potential harms from travel restrictions imposed on countries that have Ebola virus activity against any potential reductions in risk from Ebola virus importations," the study states. "Exit screening of travelers at airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travelers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively."

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will meet with the California Nurses Association to discuss the Golden State's preparedness for Ebola cases in hospitals and other health providers, the Associated Press reports. Nurses' unions have been vocal in their conviction that hospitals are ill-prepared to respond to the virus.

To learn more:
- read the guidance
- here's the study abstract
- check out the AP article