Photo by CDC

In light of three confirmed U.S. cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published three principles for health care workers caring for patients with Ebola yesterday “to ensure there is no ambiguity.”

CDC Director Tom Frieden explained why in a press briefing Monday.

“One of the many challenges dealing with Ebola is that there’s never been a case in this country until less than a month ago,” he said. “CDC had guidelines for Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers, which were issued in 2008 and updated in August of this year. They were developed by experts at CDC with consultation and approval from infectious disease control experts around the U.S. and are consistent with World Health Organization guidelines and have been used successfully before.

“The hospital caring for the first patient, Mr. [Thomas] Duncan, relied on these guidelines. Two health care workers became infected. This is unacceptable. Even a single health care worker infection is one too many.”

CDC recommendations tighten previous infection control guidance, calling for:

  • all health care workers undergo rigorous training and are practiced and competent with personal protective equipment, including taking it on and off in a systemic manner;
  • no skin exposure when personal protective equipment is worn; and
  • all workers are supervised by a trained monitor who watches each worker taking personal protective equipment on and off.

According to the agency, “in health care settings, Ebola is spread through direct contact (e.g., through broken skin or through mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth) with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola or with objects (e.g., needles, syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus.”

Read the guidelines in full at CDC.