- There is no Ebola in San Francisco.
- An Ebola case was diagnosed in Texas in a traveler from Liberia. Public health authorities in Texas and from the CDC are following up all contacts to that case to make sure that there is no further spread of Ebola. It is possible that a small number of additional cases may result, but we do not expect sustained spread of Ebola virus in the United States. This spread will not occur because rigorous public health and infection control procedures are in place.
- San Francisco is well prepared to respond to a communicable disease threat, including Ebola.
- The San Francisco Department of Public Health is taking steps to share information and ensure that clinicians and hospitals citywide are educated and prepared.
1) What is Ebola?
- Ebola virus has caused outbreaks on and off, since the 1970s, mostly in Africa. The current Ebola virus outbreak has caused 3,000 deaths in the African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, with a limited number also in Nigeria, and Senegal.
- The virus is not known to spread through the air. Rather it spreads by contact with an infected individual’s body secretions, such as through direct contact with bodily fluids including (but not limited to) blood, urine, stool, sweat, semen and breast milk.
- The symptoms of the virus include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness. In many affected individuals, the illness progresses to bleeding and organ damage.
- More than 50% of individuals known to be infected with Ebola virus worldwide during this current outbreak have died of the infection.
- The treatment for Ebola is supportive care: balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, treating them for any complicating infections.
- So far, no populations have been reported as more or less likely to contract Ebola.
2) What is happening now?
- Due to the Ebola outbreak, the CDC has issued a Level-3 Warning urging all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. CDC has issued a Level-2 Alert notifying U.S. travelers to Nigeria to protect themselves by avoiding contact with blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola.
- The Centers for Disease Control is pushing out comprehensive information to the public health community and the medical community concerning how to prepare for a potential Ebola virus case in the United States.
- This infection presents a very low risk to the general public here in the United States, because public health and hospital infection control precautions would contain the spread of the disease.
3) There is no Ebola in San Francisco. But we are prepared.
- The risk of Ebola to the San Francisco general public is extremely low.
- SFDPH has been in frequent, regular communication with local hospitals to share information and guidance concerning Ebola. A San Francisco Department of Public Health Advisory was issued on 8/6 and again on 10/3 to the San Francisco healthcare community. Communications have gone out to promote awareness around the current situation in affected countries, to provide guidance from the CDC and the California Department of Health and to share infection control recommendations.
- SFDPH has protocols in place for any type of outbreak that raises public health concerns. This includes working in close coordination with local health care providers and the California Department of Public Health.
- It is extremely unlikely that a case of Ebola virus will occur in SF. However if suspect case should occur, there are systems in place to ensure a quick response from the department and the medical community, and to maintain public safety.
- If Ebola were suspected, the patient would be strictly isolated while tests confirm or rule out the infection.
- Hospitals have been instructed to isolate any individual with suspected Ebola virus to prevent the spread of the virus to health care workers, patients and the public. Hospital staff throughout San Francisco are well trained on contact precautions related to contagious patients. These include gloves, impermeable gowns, face masks and eye protection. These isolation measures are very effective in preventing the spread of infection.
- The health care community regularly communicates with SFDPH on reportable diseases. If Ebola were suspected here, it would be reported to SFDPH and California Department of Public Health immediately. Disease reporting to SFDPH of urgent communicable disease issues is facilitated by 24 hour coverage by an MD.
Latest information on outbreak from WHO: www.who.int/csr/don/archive/disease/ebola/en/