Ebola is caused by a virus that is transmitted by contact with body fluids such as feces, blood and urine of an infected person. Transmission apparently is greatest when the host is very symptomatic. The outbreak is confined to West Africa at this time.
The present guidelines from the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health emphasize that there is a very low probability of contact with an active case of the virus in this region.
However, it is recommended that travel to the regions of West Africa currently experiencing outbreaks should be restricted to essential travel only. The traveler should take all the precautions recommended such as hand washing and avoidance of sick individuals.
Upon return to the United States, the traveler should be on the alert for fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone getting these symptoms should be evaluated by a health care professional with the understanding that the most common diseases in travelers are still traveler’s diarrhea, malaria, etc. Ebola is still a very, very rare consideration.
If the patient needs testing for an exotic traveler’s virus, consultation and arrangements can be made through the local health department.
Please refer to the websites of the Shelby County Health Department, Tennessee Department of Health or the CDC for further instructions and information.