(RxWiki News) The United States's Ebola readiness just got a boost. Now, 35 hospitals across the country are equipped to treat patients with Ebola. And more hospitals are expected to be ready in the coming weeks.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday that 35 US hospitals are now equipped to treat people who may become infected with Ebola while traveling in West Africa — an area currently stricken with the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
Health officials said the new US Ebola treatment centers are part of an ongoing effort to prepare the US to treat Ebola patients.
"We continue our efforts to strengthen domestic preparedness and hospital readiness," said Sylvia M. Burwell, HHS secretary, in a press release. "I am pleased to announce that 35 hospitals have been designated by state health officials as Ebola treatment centers that are prepared, trained, and ready to provide care for a patient with Ebola."
These treatment centers have received the staff, training and equipment needed to treat Ebola patients — an effort led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These Ebola-ready centers are spread across 13 states and districts. Those include California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, DC.
According to an HHS press release, more than 80 percent of people who return to the US from Ebola-stricken countries — Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, in particular — live within 200 miles of a US Ebola treatment center. Health workers contact those people every day for 21 days after they arrive in the US. The incubation period for Ebola is 21 days. That means that patients who might have been exposed to the virus were likely not infected if they don't show symptoms within 21 days.
Symptoms of Ebola virus disease include high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. Patients can only transfer the virus when they are showing symptoms. Even then, the virus can only be spread through infected bodily fluids.
CDC Director Tom R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said equipping hospitals to treat Ebola is part of a large effort to increase readiness in the US.
"As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States,” Dr. Frieden said. "We are implementing and constantly strengthening multiple levels of protection, including increasing the number of hospitals that have the training and capabilities to manage the complex care of an Ebola patient. These hospitals have worked hard to rigorously assess their capabilities and train their staff."