Ebola virus disease (EVD) which was earlier known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans which is caused by the Ebola Virus which was was has infected Humans through Wild animals and it is spreading in humans through human to human contact like body fluids.
The most recent Ebola Virus disease outbreak happened near a village in central Africa and has spread to Rural and Urban places as well. To help Dentists and any health worker in your dental clinic should first understand about Ebola Virus to help and take measures to control the Virus spread to the dentist or any Staff in your Dental Clinic.
Let us first understand How Ebola Virus is Transmitted from one person to another:
Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food and there is no report of Ebola Virus transmission through Asymptomatic infected patients
- A Fruit Bat from the Pteropodidae family are the primary and natural hosts for the Ebola Virus.
- And if any human who comes in contact with the body fluids like blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest will face the risk of transmission of Ebola Virus.
- After it is infected to Humans from infected animals the human to human transmission of Ebola takes place through direct contact which can be any of the body fluids like blood, secretions, saliva, semen, breast milk, and if the infected body fluid is in contact with any surface and another person with broken skin or mucous membrane comes in contact with that surface chances of transmission are very high.
- The transmission stage of the Virus is until it is completely eliminated from the Body fluids which can take as long as 7 weeks after recovery from the illness.
Symptoms to look out for in a suspected Ebola Virus patient who has entered your Dental clinic:
The primary symptoms of the disease cannot be seen until 21 days of infection which is known as incubation period and according to ADA division of science the following should be strictly followed:
“West African countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea may be at risk of having contacted persons infected with Ebola and may not exhibit symptoms. If this is the case, dental professionals are advised to delay routine dental care of the patient until 21 days have elapsed from their trip”
- Fever which is greater than 38.6 degree Centigrade or 101.5 degrees and accompanied with severe headache
- Unexplained Bleeding or Bruising
- Muscle Pain
- Stomach Pain
Precautions to be taken when an Ebola patient comes in contact with a Dentist or Dental Hygienist or any staff working in a Dental Clinic:
If any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms are seen in the patient who has any history of travel to African countries and recently some cases have been found in USA as well then you must immediately follow the below mentioned protocol.
- Try to delay any Dental procedure for 21 days if your patient has returned from African countries or any country which is reporting any cases of Ebola. As this time period will make it clear if the patient is infected with EBV or not.
- Protect your yourself and other staff in your Dental clinic with the help of physical barriers to prevent and infectious body fluids from coming in contact with any one.
- The physical barriers are Gloves, Gowns, face masks, Face protection etc should be worn when you are within 1 meter of the patient infected with EBV. Prevent any contact with the patients Oral cavity and do not give any injections to any suspected patient.
- Call your nearest health care professionals or state or local health departments in your area and inform them about the situation before hand.
- Ask the health department about disposal of the physical barriers which you have used when in contact with the Ebola patient like Gloves, face mask, eye protection etc.
Keep yourself updated with the latest news about the Ebola virus from official websites like ADA, CDC and WHO to keep yourself and the staff in your dental clinic prepared for any such cases of suspected or potential Ebola Virus Disease patients in your Dental practice.