Ebola 

General Information On Arkansas Department of Health Preparations for Ebola

While Ebola poses a very low risk to Arkansans, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) continues to work with hospitals, emergency medical service providers, laboratories, waste water management facilities, faith-based organizations, the State Chamber of Commerce and the Departments of Education and Higher Education to provide guidance and training to ensure they can appropriately screen, monitor, and care for individuals who may be infected with Ebola. Only those individuals who have traveled to Arkansas from the affected West African countries (Sierra Leone, Guinea, or Liberia), cared for an Ebola patient in a health care facility within the last 21 days, or have been told by a public health authority that they are considered at risk for Ebola, are at risk for Ebola. Currently, travel to and from Dallas and New York does not pose a risk for contracting Ebola.

Ebola and other new and emerging infectious diseases are why the ADH has an 'always on' surveillance, investigation and control system. Information we receive through our reporting and surveillance programs helps us monitor disease trends and identify groups that may be at high risk for illness. This ensures that we are ready to quickly and appropriately respond to threats to the public’s health.

If a patient in Arkansas is confirmed with Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will deploy a team to the state to provide guidance and assistance. This team assesses a facility’s infection control readiness to determine if there are any gaps and provides support to a facility in developing a comprehensive infection control plan. The principle is to be ready for the patient coming in the front door and everything that happens throughout the patient’s stay in the hospital.  CDC’s team features a wide variety of experts. It includes infection control practice specialists, personal protective equipment specialists, worker safety experts, clinical care and diagnostics experts, and laboratory processes experts.

Due to the dynamic, ongoing nature of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the ADH recommends this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the most current guidance at CDC Ebola.  

How Ebola is Spread

Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated. Most people will begin showing symptoms within 8-10 days after they were exposed, but it may range between 2 and 21 days. CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms for maximum of 21 days.

Information for Health Care Providers

All Health Care Providers should post signs asking patients who have traveled from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone to notify them upon arrival. 

Downloads
Ebola Signage | Spanish

All Health Care Providers should take patients’ travel history. 

The link below will take you to an archived video of a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training demonstration from an Ebola Educational Session.   http://www.gnyha.org/ebolatraining

Hospitals

ADH continues to provide guidance and training to hospitals and health care workers so that they are prepared and equipped to identify and manage an Ebola patient. Safely caring for an Ebola patient is not easy. It requires strictly following infection control protocols. All hospitals have been instructed to ask all patients if they have traveled to the affected West African countries, been exposed to an Ebola patient in the last 21 days, or been told by a public health authority that they may have been exposed to Ebola. Any hospital or health care provider who suspects an Ebola patient is required by law to report to the Arkansas Department of Health so that steps can be taken to quickly identify anyone who may have come into contact with the patient and reduce the spread of Ebola. ADH has staff available 24/7 to respond to reports of suspected Ebola cases and other infectious diseases. If a patient is diagnosed in an Arkansas hospital, CDC will send an Ebola response team of experts to the hospital, bringing additional supplies to assist in treating the patient, assist in contact tracing and to ensure the safety of the healthcare workers, the management and decontamination of waste.  Information and training is being provided to Arkansas hospitals on an ongoing basis. 

All hospitals have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will protect against many infectious diseases, and hospital staff has been trained in its use. Ebola is unfamiliar in the U.S., but patients can be safely treated if protocols are carefully and rigorously followed. The ADH continues to provide training and guidance to health care workers concerning the proper use of PPE.

Any suspected case of Ebola should be reported to ADH immediately at 501-661-2136.

Emergency Medical Providers

Health Clinics

The likelihood of a health clinic in Arkansas receiving a potential Ebola patient is low; however, it could happen.  ADH encourages all health clinics to post the signs (found on this site) requesting that all visitors notify staff immediately if they have traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. 

If a patient presents who has traveled to one of these countries in the past 21 days and is experiencing symptoms:

  • Direct the patient to an isolation room (private room with its own bathroom with the door kept closed) and limit the number of health care workers that are caring for the patient to the minimum necessary to provide treatment.  Avoid entry of visitors.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PP) which includes gloves, gown (fluid resistant or impermeable), eye protection, a facemask, a hood and leg/shoe covers to do any physical assessment of the case. 
  • Contact ADH at 501-661-2136.  ADH is available 24/7 to make sure that any potential patient is appropriately screened and if necessary tested, transported and treated. 
  • Post personnel outside the door of the patient’s room so that an accurate log of all people that enter the patient’s room can be kept and to ensure that PPE is being used appropriates and consistently.

Local Health Units

The likelihood of potential Ebola patients presenting at a local health department is low, but may be possible. ADH has provided all Communicable Disease Nurse Specialists and Local Health Units with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for screening purposes.  All LHUs should have clearly posted signs requesting that all visitors notify staff immediately if they have traveled to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the last 21 days.  If a patient presents who has traveled to one of these countries and is experiencing symptoms, ADH staff have been instructed to put the patient in a room by themselves, preferably with a private restroom, and contact ADH at 501-661-2136.  ADH is available 24/7 to make sure that any potential patient is appropriately screened and if necessary tested, transported and treated. 

Schools/Businesses

While Ebola poses an extremely low risk to Arkansas, the fact of international travel by Arkansans and visitors requires that administrators and employers be prepared to answer questions regarding the management of these individuals who may be arriving for school or work purposes. 

Those who have arrived from the affected West African countries in the last 21 days and develop symptoms consistent with Ebola should be immediately evaluated by a physician in consultation with ADH.  Without known exposure to Ebola, these symptoms are most likely caused by another illness, but examination is advised in all instances.

Those without symptoms and without exposures as listed above should continue to monitor themselves for fever or other symptoms for 21 days after arrival in the U.S.

Any suspected case of Ebola should be reported to ADH immediately at 501-661-2136.