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CDC Issues Ebola Guide For Health Care Workers

CDC Issues Ebola Guide For Health Care Workers Although health officials have said that there is little threat of a major Ebola virus outbreak on U.S. soil, those at higher risk of exposure are being advised to use extreme caution. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for how health care workers and people at risk can minimize their chances of infection.

Guidance for health care workers 
Whether they're traveling in areas hit by the outbreak in West Africa or working with people who may already have Ebola in the U.S., health care workers have been warned to be meticulous about hygiene. In health care settings, workers should wear full protective gear and sterilize any equipment they need to use, according to the CDC. They should also contact health officials if they've come into contact with any bodily fluids of people who may have the virus or the bodies of those who've died from it. Outside of the health care setting, people in areas affected by the outbreak have been warned to avoid contact with any items that people with Ebola may have handled.

Drug trials progressing 
The CDC cautioned that no vaccine for the Ebola virus yet exists. However, as USA Today reported, testing on potential vaccines has reached the human testing trial? stage. A vaccine developed at the Public Health Agency of Canada recently entered the clinical trial phase at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland. Another vaccine, created by the pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline, is also underway in Maryland. Physicians have also been using experimental drugs and blood transfusions to combat the virus. So far, none have been entirely successful.

Expert recommendations 
In a column on NBC News, Arthur Caplan, founder of New York University Langone Medical Center's Division of Bioethics, reiterated that there is no cause to believe that the U.S. will face an outbreak of Ebola. However, he endorsed the use of accelerated testing for potential treatments and enhanced training of health care workers at hospitals equipped to handle the disease.

Caplan's advice for the average citizen? "Get a flu shot." According to Caplan, flu symptoms can look a lot like the symptoms of early-stage Ebola. That could lead to a lot of people mistaking the flu for Ebola, causing undue panic and crowding hospitals. Even without the threat of Ebola, flu vaccines can be a powerful tool for senior care. According to the CDC, as many as 49,000 people have died of the disease each year since 1976, although some years the total deaths were as low as 3,000. 

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