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Press Release from the American Hotel & Lodging Association
As the Ebola virus continues to generate news, it is important to remember that the occurrence of the virus is rare. While there are only three known reported cases of the virus here in the United States, emergency and health workers on the frontlines of treating the virus are at the highest risk of exposure. However, guests and hotel employees may have concerns about how to identify the virus and the proper response should there be any reason for concern.
Two of those exposed to the virus were nurses in Dallas, TX, who treated the first reported case in the United States. After the third person was infected, President Obama vowed to be more aggressive in fighting the virus. He emphasized that the dangers of a serious outbreak in this country remain extraordinarily low.
With our partners, AH&LA is in close communication with government and health officials for the latest news and updates on the virus. We are continuing to monitor this situation closely, and will continue to share information with our members.
Please also join AH&LA and health and security experts for a members-only webinar on October 30, 2014 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. EST to learn more about health emergencies for all kinds of viruses, including Ebola, and the even more commonplace flu, and how to be prepared. Register here.
The Centers for Disease Control has been the authoritative voice on the issue. There are a number of additional resources that may be helpful, in addition to the information provided below. For additional research, we suggest you visit www.cdc.gov or https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/control_prevention.html
Message from the President and CEO of AH&LA
“In response to the current Ebola outbreak, we want to be sure that we are sharing the latest information and resources with the industry, and continue to monitor the situation very closely. We are talking to industry and government officials to stay abreast of the latest developments.
“The health, safety and security of our guests and team members is paramount. In these kinds of rapidly-evolving situations it is imperative that we stay informed, dispel fact from fiction and follow official guidelines. To that end, we are sharing with you some resources and information on Ebola, its symptoms, and the measures you can take to be better prepared. We will continue to stay in close contact with governmental agencies, and provide you with updated resources as they are made available to us.” – Katherine Lugar, President and CEO, American Hotel and Lodging Association
Protecting Your Business
AH&LA continues to be in close contact with government officials as this situation develops. In this section, we will post additional materials as they become available.
- NEW: OSHA has provided a new fact sheet, Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces. This provides guidance on protecting workers in non-healthcare settings from exposure to Ebola virus, and from harmful levels of chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection.
- CDC offers specific guidance for workers cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that have been in contact with blood or body fluids from a traveler known to have or suspected of having Ebola.
- Control and Prevention for Your Workers: Please read this for OSHA’s requirements and recommendations for protecting workers whose work activities are conducted in an environment that is known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with Ebola virus (e.g., due to contamination with blood or other potentially infectious material).
- Guidance for business continuity management for Ebola risk created by Aon.
Know who to call if you need immediate assistance
- CDC has provided contact information for state and local Health Departments. Click here.
Conferences and Large Gatherings (courtesy of U.S. Travel Association)
- U.S. Travel has released a set of protocols developed by the Chertoff Group if you are planning a conference or large gathering. Read them here.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the U.S. Government response to the Ebola outbreak. The hearing will be held on Thursday, November 6 at 2:00 pm EST. Witnesses have not yet been named, but will become available on the Committee Website here.
News from Department of Homeland Security
In light of concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), will be implementing additional screening and protective measures on October 22, 2014. According to the DHS announcement, all passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place.
What You Need to Know
Identifying the Ebola virus: (courtesy of the CDC):
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. The virus is transmitted to others through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person and exposure to objects that have been contaminated with blood or bodily fluids. Specifically, as the CDC states: “Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola”. Ebola viruses often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with the infectious secretions of ill persons they are caring for. The virus is not "airborne," and Ebola is not spread through air, water or food.
- Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
What to do if you think you have been exposed: (courtesy of CDC)
- Notify your employer immediately.
- Monitor your health for 21 days. Watch for symptoms of Ebola: fever (temperature of 100.4°F/38°C† or higher), severe headaches, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising.
- If you develop these symptoms after possible exposure to Ebola, get medical attention right away.
- Before visiting a health care provider, alert the clinic or emergency room in advance about your possible exposure to Ebola so that arrangements can be made to prevent transmission to health care staff or other patients.
- When traveling to get medical care, limit your contact with other people. This includes avoiding public transportation. Avoid all other travel until you have been medically evaluated.
Current U.S. Travel Policy:
- CDC and other governmental authorities continue to emphasize that the public at large is not at risk of contracting Ebola, and travel remains safe.
- U.S. government officials are NOT restricting travel to any destinations in the United States.
- Ebola screening is currently taking place for travelers arriving from three West African countries at five of the nation’s busiest airports: Washington Dulles, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare and New York JFK.
- The CDC has not recommended a travel ban. Instead, it maintains that sealing off these countries would make the situation worse.
- A U.S. Department of Transportation rule permits airlines to deny boarding to air travelers with serious contagious diseases that could spread during flight, including travelers with possible Ebola symptoms. This rule applies to all flights of U.S. airlines, and to direct flights (no change of planes) to or from the United States by foreign airlines.
The Centers for Disease Control has developed Ebola prevention and control recommendations, all of which can be accessed here. Included in these documents are recommendations to follow these routine precautions:
- Keep the sick person separated from others as much as possible.
- Wear waterproof disposable gloves before directly touching the sick person, blood, or other body fluids.
- When providing direct care to a sick traveler who came from a country with an Ebola outbreak, also wear surgical mask (to protect from splashes or sprays), face shield or goggles, and protective apron or gown.
- Do NOT give a surgical mask for someone who is nauseated or
vomiting. Wearing a mask could harm a traveler who is vomiting. Give an
air sickness bag if traveler is vomiting or reports feeling nauseated.
- Give a plastic bag for disposing used tissues or soiled air sickness bag.
- Give a surgical mask if a sick traveler is coughing or sneezing, if the sick person can tolerate wearing one. If a mask cannot be tolerated, provide tissues and ask the person to cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Please also review these recommendations for handling blood-borne infections for airline travelers, provided by the CDC.
Symptoms: Certain infections, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and viral hemorrhagic fevers, are carried in the bloodstreams of infected people. A person with one of these infections may have symptoms such as jaundice (a yellow appearance of the skin or white parts of the eyes) in the case of hepatitis B or C; or, in the case of hemorrhagic fevers, unexplained bleeding of the skin, eyes, or gums. However, a person with some of these diseases may not have any symptoms at all, yet still be contagious.
How infection spreads: Some of these infections can be spread when body surfaces that can easily absorb blood-borne pathogens, such as open cuts, scrapes, or mucous membranes (lining of mouth, eyes, or nose) come into direct contact with infectious bodily fluids.
INFECTION CONTROL MEASURES
- Treat any body fluid as though it is infectious
- Hand hygiene is the single most important infection control measure
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after assisting ill travelers or coming in contact with body fluids or surfaces that may be contaminated.
- An alcohol-based hand cleaner is an alternative to hand-washing but will not be effective if hands are visibly soiled.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed or gloved hands.
- Disposable gloves (gloves do not replace proper hand hygiene)
- Wear impermeable, disposable gloves when:
- physically tending to an ill traveler
- coming in contact with body fluids (such as used tissues, blood, vomit, or diarrhea), potentially contaminated surfaces or lavatories.
- Remove gloves carefully to avoid contaminating yourself or your clothing.
- Properly dispose of soiled gloves after use into a plastic bag, and do not re-use.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand cleaner after removing gloves.
- Wear impermeable, disposable gloves when:
- Face masks
- Surgical-type face masks worn by an ill person may help reduce the spread of respiratory germs from coughing, sneezing or talking; however, surgical facemasks are not recommended for use by a person who is not ill.
- CDC on Ebola
- CDC Ebola Q&A
- CDC Ebola Guidance for Airlines
- CDC Chief: Why I Don't Support a Travel Ban to Combat Ebola Outbreak
For more, follow @CDCgov on Twitter or visit www.cdc.gov