Update 20/01/2015 – Monitoring period for passengers who travelled on flights with the UK nurse diagnosed with Ebola has ended.
Following the diagnosis of Ebola in a healthcare worker in the UK Public Health England (PHE) undertook to trace and contact other passengers on the flights returning from Sierra Leone on 28 December and who travelled on flight AT0800 from Casablanca to London, and transferred at Heathrow to flight BA1478 to Glasgow. Although risk of infection to other passengers was considered very low, PHE and Health Protection Scotland have contacted all passengers on these flights to make them aware that a fellow passenger had contracted the Ebola disease, although they would have been in the very early stages and extremely unlikely to be infectious.
Despite the extremely low risk, PHE took the precaution of informing any passengers sitting directly in the vicinity of the affected passenger of the risk, and advising them to take their temperature twice daily until 18/01/2015. If their temperature was 37.5°C or higher, or they feel unwell in any way, they were advised to call a dedicated PHE contact immediately for advice.
The incubation period between exposure and when symptoms might develop for Ebola is up to 21 days, and therefore as of 19/01/2015 this monitoring period is at an end, and no further cases of Ebola have been reported. Any illness that passengers might experience beyond this point would not be considered to be related.
It is important to remember that the risk of Ebola being passed onto other passengers was extremely low, and monitoring was being undertaken only as a precaution.
PHE is leading the screening process and providing clinical staff on a rota in all of the ports identified for the enhanced screening. Since October 2014 over 1,700 people returning from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been screened.
There is currently an outbreak of Ebola virus disease occurring in West Africa. It was first reported in March 2014 in Guinea and since late May has involved four countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone with Mali confirming its first case of Ebola 24th of October 2014. (WHO have now declared end of Ebola outbreak in Senegal and Nigeria). This is now the largest known outbreak of this disease worldwide.
Ebola is a rare but serious viral infection, spread person to person by direct contact with blood and body fluids of infected people. The incubation period of Ebola ranges from 2 to21 days, and so whilst unlikely, it is not impossible that a person infected in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Mali could arrive in the UK before developing symptoms.
Those that may have been exposed need to undergo a brief risk assessment to determine if they might be at risk of Ebola infection. An algorithm has been developed to assist IRC healthcare staff carrying out the initial health assessment of detainees.
Any person who has been in West Africa in the previous 21 days should be risk assessed using the algorithm. Those wishing to visit the affected areas must ensure that their employers are made aware prior to travel and return.
If there are any concerns, please contact your local Public Health England health protection team for further advice.
Each trust may have its own standards in place regarding EVD screening. Primary Care will assist in screening to those standards as long as this does not compromise the available guidance from PHE, WHO and meets the minimum standards set out by your governing body.
As of the 18/11/2014, the governing frameworks have now added some minimum requirements to follow:
Further information about the Ebola virus outbreak can be found on the following webpages:
Public Health England (including the outbreak and maps of affected area): http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Ebola/ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/359080/PHE_factsheet_on_Ebola_for_family___friends_of_aid_workers.pdf
World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/index.html http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/travel-guidance/en/
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