Ebola Virus Disease: Prevention and Control are Essential

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in March 2014 has had a devastating effect on the West African population – most notably Liberia – where, as of October 2014, it had already claimed the lives of more than 3,000 citizens, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The disease was first identified in 1976, but there have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than in all others combined.

In fact, the Ebola crisis is reported to be the worst the world has ever seen. The average case fatality rate for Ebola is 50 percent, significantly higher than that of previous outbreaks which ranged from approximately 25 percent to 90 percent. 

Initially, the disease emerged in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests; however, its catastrophic effects are compounded by the fact that the most recent outbreak has involved major urban areas, as well as rural areas. The virus has spread to other countries, including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. 

While the greatest concentration of Ebola is in West Africa, fear of further spread of the virus is mounting due to the prevalence of hygiene and lifestyle risk factors in the area. 

The unprecedented virulent nature of this Ebola outbreak underscores the need for rapid mobilization of medical personnel and material. Efforts to help contain the virus are centered on prevention and control measures. Strict adherence to health guidelines is essential in addressing the challenges posed by the Ebola disease and to helping minimize the spread of the virus.

Healthcare workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced. 

Ebola is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans; it also spreads in the human population through human-to-human contact. 

One mode of transmission is direct contact with the body or bodily fluids of an infected person, whether living or deceased. Additionally, it can be transmitted through indirect contact, through objects, surfaces, clothing or bedding contaminated by the body fluids of a live or deceased infected person.

Healthcare Professionals Play a Key Role

In August 2014, Quebec’s public health agency published recommendations concerning nosocomial (in-hospital) infections, entitled “Ebola Virus Disease: Prevention and Control Measures for Hospitals. The agency wrote: 

“The Quebec Nosocomial Infection Committee recommends more important measures to take into account possible airborne transmission, significant environmental contamination by blood, body fluids, secretions or excretions, and high Ebola virus disease fatality. Hospitals must implement the measures necessary to prevent the transmission of Ebola virus disease.”

In the light of the current health crisis, it is vital that healthcare professionals employ hygienic solutions to biological waste management and containment. Numerous rigorous studies have proven the effectiveness of hygienic covers for bedpans and commode chairs in helping to reduce the likelihood of infection transmission. 

In response to this, Hygie Canada has developed Hygie Hygienic Covers® for bedpans and commode chairs as a sanitary, easy-to-use way to contain potentially harmful pathogens and promote best practices in healthcare. On a practical level, they allow healthcare professionals to more safely and rapidly complete their cleaning and disinfecting tasks. In fact, they are currently used by more than 700 institutions in Quebec.

These bedpan and commode chair liners feature a unique technology using a super-absorbent pad that turns up to 600 mL of liquid waste into a gel within just seconds. This reduces the risk of splashes, spills and germ dispersal, helping to prevent nosocomial infections.

As the Committee states in its discussion of healthcare and medical equipment, “If the patient cannot use the toilet, have him/her use a dedicated commode chair lined with sanitary bags to collect stool and urine”. 

The use of state-of-the-art healthcare equipment and technology by all healthcare professionals, both in-hospital and in the community will go a long way toward helping to prevent and contain the Ebola virus that is taking such a toll on citizens around the world.