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Thoughts from CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Selected Category: Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

The High Stakes in Fighting Ebola: Leave One Burning Ember and the Epidemic Could Re-Ignite

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

Ebola treatment camp
This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

CDC and our partners are currently fighting the biggest and most complex outbreak of Ebola virus disease ever recorded.

There are hundreds of cases in West Africa and now a new cluster of cases in Nigeria is very concerning. The spread of Ebola shows what happens if we don’t have meticulous infection control, contact tracing, and proper isolation of those with symptoms of the disease.

There are two things that are very important to understand about how Ebola spreads.

The evidence suggests that Ebola only spreads from sick people — not from people who have been exposed to the disease but haven’t yet become sick from it. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period, although in rare instances the incubation period may be as short as two days or as long as 21 days, which is why we recommend monitoring for 21 days after any potential exposure.

CDC Laboratory Guidance on Ebola

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

Dr. Tom Frieden PhotoFor more than four decades, Ebola virus had only been diagnosed in central or eastern Africa.

Then late this past March, the first cases of Ebola began appearing in a surprising part of the continent. The Ministry of Health in Guinea notified WHO of a rapidly evolving outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The outbreak in Guinea was the first sign the virus had made the jump across the continent.

Ebola then spread quickly to Sierra Leone and Liberia, and then to Nigeria.

As the world learned of the cases, CDC began receiving questions from American hospital labs. They were looking for guidance on how to handle testing for patients who had recently returned to the U.S. from West Africa with potential Ebola symptoms.

If U.S. hospitals were to run laboratory tests on these patients, how could they be sure their staff could safely handle materials that might contain this dangerous virus? Did they need the kind of personal protective equipment they saw CDC scientists using when they were testing for Ebola?

In order to ensure the safety of laboratory staff and other health care personnel collecting or handling specimens, we recommend they follow established OSHA bloodborne pathogens standards .

The truth about Ebola, US risks and how to stop it

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

Many have asked questions about the risk of bringing two Americans with Ebola back home to the United States for medical treatment.

Ebola is frightening because it’s so deadly, especially when patients may not have access to basic medical care that can help keep them alive while they fight the illness. This is certainly the case in the three countries in West Africa and in Lagos, Nigeria that are currently fighting Ebola.

There are really two things that have, I am afraid, been confusing in the publicity on Ebola in the past week.

First – is there any effective, proven treatment for Ebola?  

Yes, there is!  It is basic supportive health care, with fluid management, blood and blood product transfusions if indicated, treatment of bacterial super-infections if patients develop these, and general nursing care. With these core, proven, readily deployable interventions, the death rate from Ebola infections can be cut substantially.


If there is a patient with Ebola in the U.S., CDC has protocols in place to stop spread of the disease.


We hope drugs and vaccines will be available soon. We hope they work, and we hope they can be produced in substantial quantities if they do work. But even if they do work and even if they are available, they would be supplements to, not replacements for, the basic supportive care that is already proven to work. Unfortunately, this supportive care is not in place today for many of the patients who need it in West Africa and Nigeria, and addressing that need is the top global priority.

The Ebola Outbreak: The CDC Director’s Guidance for Health care workers

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

Dr. Tom Frieden PhotoTwo Americans who became infected with Ebola virus disease in Liberia are now at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. They’re receiving supportive care, including careful fluid management, as their bodies wrestle with the Ebola virus. While there is no cure for Ebola, strong supportive care will increase their chances of survival.

Their arrival was carefully planned and prepared for. And their care is being closely monitored as they are being managed in strict isolation. We are confident everything is being done for their well-being, and for the safety and well-being of those treating them.

How did these and other health care workers come down with Ebola virus disease?

We may never know the precise source of their exposure.

Regardless, the occurrence of Ebola virus infection in health care workers is a sobering reminder that the preparedness of health care personnel is often a significant factor in Ebola outbreaks. Isolation and strict infection control procedures are essential to prevent spread of the disease.

Where Are The Hot Spots For Antibiotic Resistance?

Categories: Health Protection, Public Health & Clinical Care Collaboration

 Antibiotic Resistance

This post originally appeared in The Health Care Blog.

In July, CDC will roll out a new way every hospital in the country can track and control drug resistant bacteria. CDC already operates the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), with more than 12,000 health care facilities participating. Now we are implementing a breakthrough program that will take control of drug resistance to the next level – the Antibiotic Use and Resistance (AUR) reporting module. The module is fully automated, capturing antibiotic prescriptions and drug susceptibility test results electronically.

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