The Centers for Disease Control is implementing precautionary preparation for the transmission of the Ebola virus in the United States. The deadly virus, which has killed hundreds of people in West Africa, is a major concern for the CDC, prompting activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to be elevated to its highest, Level 1. Although the CDC maintains that there is little threat to the public of the transmission of Ebola, measures are being taken in order to prepare the medical community in the U.S. for potential spread of the virus.
Efforts are being made to increase surveillance and testing for the disease in laboratories across the nation. The CDC is expanding the abilities of laboratories, which are part of the Laboratory Response Network, to accurately diagnose the Ebola virus. Currently, diagnostic testing is only available at CDC and Department of Defense laboratories.
Healthcare providers are being prompted to prevent the spread of infection using currently accepted methods of droplet control and by avoiding direct contact with patients. Health departments are also being offered tools to detect potential Ebola outbreaks.
Airport and flight personnel across the U.S. are being provided with information to help combat the potential spread of Ebola by travelers on overseas flights. Flight attendants, airport emergency medical staff, and Customs agents are being told to promptly report to the CDC all information about sick passengers. The CDC is making available current, up-to-date information about the threat of Ebola to travelers flying internationally, as well as to the general public.
Although these measures are being implemented in order to prepare for the threat of Ebola in the United States, officials are confident that the virus can be contained if an outbreak does occur. David Kuhlar, M.D, an infection control expert with the CDC, states, "Our health care professionals can safely manage an Ebola patient. What we recommend to prevent transmission of Ebola in hospital settings is similar to what we recommend for other infectious diseases."