The news of recent Ebola cases in the United States has heightened awareness and concern regarding spread of the disease. We want you to know that Linn County Public Health, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital, and Mercy Medical Center take this public health issue seriously and are prepared to address potential cases.
Patients presenting to a health care facility should be prepared to answer whether they have traveled to West Africa or hosted a visitor from that region in the last 21 days and whether they are displaying symptoms.
Symptoms of Ebola include:
• Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
• Muscle pain
• Abdominal (stomach) pain
• Severe headache
• Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
• Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
This information is vital to enable our health care workers to screen travel history and symptoms so patients with possible Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) can be immediately recognized. If possible, patients that suspect they may have Ebola should call Mercy Medical Center’s ER at (319) 398-6041 or St. Luke’s ER at (319) 369-7105 when in route to a hospital, or in an emergency call 9-1-1. That will allow health care providers to identify and immediately isolate the individual.
Protocols have been developed by infection prevention specialists at both hospitals in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Iowa Department of Public Health and Linn County Public Health Department. This includes the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers. These protocols continue to be revised as new information becomes available.
Ebola is not a virus spread through the air, and an individual is contagious only if the infected person is having active symptoms. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids (urine, feces, saliva, sweat and vomit) of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. In other words, the likelihood of contracting Ebola through casual contact is remote.
Our organizations have a long history of working together to collaborate and share information regarding this and other potential public health threats. We have teams of experts in our hospitals and clinics monitoring our preparedness on a daily basis.
More information about the disease itself is available at:
CDC website: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola
Travel notices and recommendations: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
WHO website: www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/
MEDIA CONTACTS: Heather Meador, Linn County Public Health Department, (319) 892-6061, Karen VanderSanden, Mercy Medical Center, (319) 398-6083 and Sarah Corizzo, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital.