Dental Tribune America

Health authorities offer Ebola guidance for dentists

By Dental Tribune International
October 20, 2014

ATLANTA & CHICAGO, USA: In close collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention, the American Dental Association (ADA) has released information for dental professionals on Ebola virus disease, which is epidemic in West Africa. Among other recommendations, it provides advice on the treatment of patients recently returned from the region.

CDC and its partners are currently working to help prevent Ebola and other infectious diseases from being introduced into and spread in the U.S. As of Oct. 17, the ADA advises dental professionals of the following:

A person infected with Ebola is not considered contagious until symptoms appear. Owing to the virulent nature of the disease, it is highly unlikely that someone with Ebola symptoms will seek dental care when he or she is severely ill. However, according to CDC and the ADA Division of Science, dental professionals are advised to take a medical history, including a travel history, from their patients with symptoms in whom a viral infection is suspected.

As recommended by the ADA Division of Science, any person within 21 days of returning from the 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. Palliative care for serious oral health conditions, dental infections and dental pain can be provided if necessary after consulting with the patient's physician and conforming to standard precautions and physical barriers.

In general, providers of dental health care services should continue to follow standard infection control procedures in the clinical setting as described in CDC's 2003 Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings, the organization stated.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola include fever greater than 38.6 C or 101.5 F and severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

CDC emphasized, "The virus is spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person, or with objects, like needles, that have been contaminated with the virus. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food."

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Its outbreak was first officially recognized in March this year. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), about 9,000 people have been infected with the disease and about 4,500 have died.

The first Ebola case to be diagnosed in the U.S. in a person who had travelled to Dallas from West Africa was confirmed on Sept. 30.

On Oct. 17, WHO officially declared the Ebola outbreak in Senegal over and commended the country on its diligence in ending the transmission of the virus. Three days later, WHO officially declared that Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission.

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