Credit CDC PHIL
The CDC continues to roll out new interim guidance documents for health care professionals and facilities that at some point may be called upon to deal with an imported Ebola case in the United States. As always, these are `works in progress’, and are subject to revision over time as more is learned about dealing with this virus.
Although laboratory experiments have shown that the Ebola virus can remain viable on solid surfaces for up to 6 days – at least under ideal environmental conditions - very limited `real world’ field testing has suggested a far less hardy organism; one that is susceptible to degradation by sunlight, desiccation, and time.
That said, the precise role of environmental transmission of Ebola is far from settled - and given its lethality and low infectious dose - guidance in these matters tends to err on the side of caution. Also included is a Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQ), which poses (and answers) several interesting questions, including:
How should disposable materials (e.g., any single-use PPE, cleaning cloths, wipes, single-use microfiber cloths, linens, food service) and linens, privacy curtains, and other textiles be managed after their use in the patient room?
Are wastes generated during delivery of care to Ebola virus-infected patients subject to select agent regulations?
I’ve only reproduced the main body of the guidance, so follow the link to read it, and the accompanying FAQ in its entirety.
On August 1, 2014, CDC released guidance titled, Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Hospitalized Patients with Known or Suspected Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in U.S. Hospitals. Ebola viruses are transmitted through direct contact with blood or body fluids/substances (e.g., urine, feces, vomit) of an infected person with symptoms or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected blood or body fluids. The role of the environment in transmission has not been established. Limited laboratory studies under favorable conditions indicate that Ebola virus can remain viable on solid surfaces, with concentrations falling slowly over several days.1, 2 In the only study to assess contamination of the patient care environment during an outbreak, virus was not detected in any of 33 samples collected from sites that were not visibly bloody. However, virus was detected on a blood-stained glove and bloody intravenous insertion site.3 There is no epidemiologic evidence of Ebola virus transmission via either the environment or fomites that could become contaminated during patient care (e.g., bed rails, door knobs, laundry). However, given the apparent low infectious dose, potential of high virus titers in the blood of ill patients, and disease severity, higher levels of precaution are warranted to reduce the potential risk posed by contaminated surfaces in the patient care environment.
As part of the care of patients who are persons under investigation, or with probable or confirmed Ebola virus infections, hospitals are recommended to:
- Be sure environmental services staff wear recommended personal protective equipment including, at a minimum, disposable gloves, gown (fluid resistant/ impermeable), eye protection (goggles or face shield), and facemask to protect against direct skin and mucous membrane exposure of cleaning chemicals, contamination, and splashes or spatters during environmental cleaning and disinfection activities. Additional barriers (e.g., leg covers, shoe covers) should be used as needed. If reusable heavy-duty gloves are used for cleaning and disinfecting, they should be disinfected and kept in the room or anteroom. Be sure staff are instructed in the proper use of personal protective equipment including safe removal to prevent contaminating themselves or others in the process, and that contaminated equipment is disposed of as regulated medical waste.
- Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital disinfectant with a label claim for a non-enveloped virus (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) to disinfect environmental surfaces in rooms of patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection. Although there are no products with specific label claims against the Ebola virus, enveloped viruses such as Ebola are susceptible to a broad range of hospital disinfectants used to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces. In contrast, non-enveloped viruses are more resistant to disinfectants. As a precaution, selection of a disinfectant product with a higher potency than what is normally required for an enveloped virus is being recommended at this time. EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims against non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) are broadly antiviral and capable of inactivating both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.
- Avoid contamination of reusable porous surfaces that cannot be made single use. Use only a mattress and pillow with plastic or other covering that fluids cannot get through. Do not place patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection in carpeted rooms and remove all upholstered furniture and decorative curtains from patient rooms before use.
- To reduce exposure among staff to potentially contaminated textiles (cloth products) while laundering, discard all linens, non-fluid-impermeable pillows or mattresses, and textile privacy curtains as a regulated medical waste.