By A.J. Plunkett
Review your infection control plan for Ebola now that the CDC is recommending that all U.S. healthcare settings should ask about international travel while screening patients and visitors for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
As of March 4, the CDC is also requiring all airlines and other aircraft operators to collect and transmit contact information to the CDC “for appropriate public health follow-up and intervention for all passengers boarding a flight to the United States who were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or the Republic of Guinea within the 21 days before their arrival in the United States.”
The alerts from the CDC comes as reports increase about the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease outbreaks in DRC and Guinea.
In an “Ebola Clinical Alert for U.S. Healthcare Personnel” emailed late Tuesday, the CDC noted that “currently, all U.S. healthcare settings are recommended to screen and triage everyone entering the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.”
In addition, it recommends that facilities “ask about and document international travel histories to alert healthcare personnel to the possibility of other communicable infections, such as viral hemorrhagic fevers, that need specific infection control precautions and/or treatment,” said the alert.
“Post contact information for infection control personnel and the local public health jurisdiction for reporting of communicable diseases, including EVD, in easily visible locations,” it added.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) advised members that “personnel are asked to share this information with all personnel who might conduct screening and triage activities or be responsible for initial clinical management of patients (e.g., including Emergency Medical Services, outpatient, and emergency department personnel).”
The CDC clinical alert also included the following additional recommendations and resource information:
Current infection prevention and control recommendations for EVD in U.S. healthcare facilities
Current CDC infection prevention and control guidance for U.S. healthcare facilities is available on the CDC Ebola website for clinicians. Specific guidance and tools that may be of interest to facilities include:
- Separate personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance remains in place for the management of Clinically Stable PUIs and Confirmed Ebola Patients or Clinically Unstable PUIs.
- A PPE Calculator Tool is available to assist healthcare facilities in determining the appropriate supply of PPE to have on hand to manage a PUI or patient with confirmed EVD.
A healthcare facility evaluating a PUI or treating a patient with EVD should consult with public health authorities if they are unable to meet these recommendations due to PPE shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Regional Treatment Network for Ebola and other special pathogens
Healthcare facilities and public health officials should be familiar with the tiered U.S. Regional Treatment Network for Ebola and other special pathogens.
- Healthcare facilities should understand their role in the tiered network as a Frontline facility, State-designated Assessment Hospital, State-designated Treatment Center, or HHS-designated Regional Treatment Center.
- Healthcare facilities and public health officials should have established plans for how PUIs or EVD patients are to be managed and referred.
- CDC continues to coordinate with the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Hospital Preparedness Program and the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) to increase U.S. capability to safely manage patients with EVD and other special pathogens. NETEC maintains online resources at the link above, and remains available to provide consultation to hospitals for managing patients with EVD.
Additional public health resources
A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, a Simplify Compliance publication.