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Ebola resources update

ADA, CDC, OSAP provide resources to dental professionals

November 03, 2014 Editor's note: This statement is posted online at Member Center/ADA Library and Archives/Oral Health Topics (ADA.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/ebola-resources) and is being updated by the ADA as information becomes available.

The ADA is monitoring recent Ebola cases in the U.S. We monitor information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention. The ADA is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information for dental professionals on this evolving issue. Please revisit this website frequently for further updates.

As of Oct. 24, dental professionals are advised on the following:

The ADA Division of Science advises dental professionals not to treat dental patients if they have signs and symptoms of Ebola infection because most oral health providers do not have the appropriate equipment, experience and skills to safely treat an Ebola-infected patient. The most common signs and symptoms of Ebola infection are:

  • Fever (greater than 38.6 degrees C or 101.5 degrees F) and severe headache.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

The ADA Division of Science advises dental professionals to take a medical history, including a travel history, from patients with symptoms or signs in which a viral infection is suspected. The ADA Division of Science suggests these health questionnaire additions:

1. Have you traveled to: Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the last 21 days?
No__ Yes__
If yes, please let us know when you arrived into the U.S.?
Month_____  Day ________

2. Are you feeling feverish?
No__ Yes__ 

If the patient answers yes to both questions, the individual may be at risk of Ebola. Dental professionals and staff in contact with the patient should:

  • Immediately protect themselves by using standard precautions with physical barriers (gowns, masks, face protection and gloves).
  • Immediately call 911 on behalf of the patient.
  • Notify the appropriate state or local health department authorities.
  • Ask the health department to provide you and your staff with the most up-to-date guidance on removing and disposing of potentially contaminated materials and equipment, including the physical barriers.

According to the ADA Division of Science, any person within 21 days of returning from the West African countries Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea may be at risk of having contacted persons infected with Ebola and may not exhibit symptoms. The ADA recommends delaying routine dental care of these patients until 21 days have elapsed from their trip. Essential treatment and palliative care that is necessary for serious oral health conditions, dental infections and pain can be provided after consulting with the patient's physician and local health department to determine that it is safe to provide such care with standard precautions and physical barriers.

Recent recommendations from the CDC request public health authorities to begin active post-arrival monitoring of people whose travel originated in Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea. Active post-arrival monitoring means that travelers without fever or Ebola symptoms will be followed up daily by state and health departments for 21 days from the date of their departure from West Africa.

The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood and body fluids (urine, feces, saliva, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the virus. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or, in general, by food. Again, there is no reported risk of transmission of Ebola from asymptomatic infected patients.
Information and resources on Ebola are posted on the CDC's website. A  PDF checklist for health care providers specific to Ebola is included on the site. Please revisit this website frequently for further updates.

Additional resources

  • Ebola Virus Disease and Its Implications for the Oral Health Care Community, an ADA, CDC and OSAP facilitated-webinar, is accessible online at ada.org/ebola.
  • Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention Ebola Toolkit
  • (osap.org/?page=ebola) and OSAP.org.
  • CDC Health Alert Network — Evaluating Patients for Possible Ebola Virus Disease: Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel and Health Officials (emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00371.asp).
  • CDC Recommended Infection Control Practices for Dentistry (cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/guidelines/index.htm).
  • CDC Health Care Provider Preparedness Checklist for Ebola Virus Disease (cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/healthcare-provider-checklist-for-ebola.pdf).
  • The ADA Practical Guide to Effective Infection Control (P692) (ebusiness.ada.org/productcatalog/product.aspx?ID=601).