Questions, answers about the Ebola virus
Recent illnesses and deaths related to the Ebola virus have raised concerns about public safety locally and nationwide. Here are some frequently asked questions about the virus, with answers based on information from the Centers for Disease Control, Virginia Department of Health and other sources.
Call Virginia's Ebola hotline - 1-877-275-8343 - for the most up-to-date information for Virginians. Or visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention online.
Q: Are U.S. hospitals prepared to care for an Ebola patient?
A: The CDC says any hospital that follows recommendations can manage someone with Ebola.
Q: Are local hospitals and health care officials prepared to care for an Ebola patient?
A: "We have procedures and policies in place," said Dr. Nzinga Teule-Hekima, director of the Hampton Heath Department and the Peninsula Health District.
Q: Are local police and emergency personnel prepared?
A: Hampton police, fire and emergency personnel have been meeting regularly to review emergency plans and consider new information, training or equipment .
Q: What are some symptoms of the virus?
A: Fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
Q: Can the virus be detected early?
That's difficult because similar symptoms are seen in patients with malaria, typhoid and more common illnesses. A person infected with Ebola can't spread the virus until their symptoms have appeared.
Q: What is the incubation period for the Ebola virus (the time from exposure to when signs or symptoms of the disease disappear)?
A: Ebola has a 2-21 day incubation period. The average time is 8-10 days.
Q: What is the likelihood of my contracting Ebola?
A: It's low unless you have direct, unprotected contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who has Ebola - or directly handle bats or nonhuman primates from areas with Ebola outbreaks.
Q: Can Ebola be spread through things we touch, like a countertop or a doorknob?
A: On dry surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops, the virus can survive for several hours. It can be killed with hospital-grade disinfectants (including household bleach).
Q: What can I do to protect myself from Ebola?
A: Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water isn't available; avoid close contact with sick people; if you or your child is sick, limit contact by staying home.
Q: What should someone do if they have symptoms of Ebola or possible exposure to the virus?
A: Limit contact with others and see a health care provider immediately.
Q: What is the treatment for Ebola?
A: There is no approved vaccine or medicine. Symptoms are treated as they develop by providing intravenous fluids, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating infections.
Q: Can dogs or cats get infected or sick with Ebola?
A: There haven't been any reports of dogs or cats becoming sick, or being able to spread the disease to people or animals. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recently called for dogs exposed to the virus in countries that are not endemic for Ebola to be tested and quarantined - not automatically euthanized.
Q: What's being done to keep people who may have the virus from entering the U.S.?
A: Exit screening overseas includes a visual assessment of the traveler, checking for a fever, and a series of health and exposure questions. The federal government is also implementing enhanced entry screening at five airports where more than 90% of passengers from Ebola-affected countries enter the U.S. The screening includes a detailed health and exposure questionnaire.
More information for public, emergency workers
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more detailed information.