letter from Dept of Public Health

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner and State Health Officer of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and Brian Kemp, the Secretary of State, sent emails to all professional licensed nurses in the state of Georgia today. The lengthy email contains detailed information about Ebola transmission, clinical guidance, and specific health risks to health care workers and patients.

The email is lengthy and contains medical terminology that you may not be familiar with. I have included an excerpt from the email that pertains to sexual transmission of the Ebola virus.

. Ebola is not a food borne, waterborne, or airborne illness. Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus in blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

It can also be spread through unprotected sexual contact for up to 3 months after a person has recovered from EVD (Ebola Virus Disease).

. The virus also can be spread through contact with objects (ex. needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus.

. Researchers believe that Ebola survives in water for only a matter of minutes. Ebola virus can only replicate within an animal or human host cell and becomes very fragile when separated from environments similar to body fluids, which have higher salt concentrations. This means that bodily fluids flushed by an infected person would not contaminate the water supply. Once in water, the virus will [absorb] water in an attempt to equalize the osmotic pressure [inside the virus cells], causing the virus cells to swell and burst, and ultimately killing the virus.

. Signs of Ebola include fever (greater than 101.5°F or 38.6°C) and additional symptoms, such as severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal (stomach) pain, or unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).
. Symptoms appear in 2 to 21 days, but the average is 8 to 10 days.