GPs advised how to detect and isolate suspected Ebola cases as outbreak continues

GPs have been issued guidance on how to identify and isolate patients with suspected Ebola, as public health officials say it is 'unlikely but not impossible' the disease presents in UK primary care.

Ebola virus: GPs are urged to stay alert to possible cases in the UK (Photo: SPL)
Ebola virus: GPs are urged to stay alert to possible cases in the UK (Photo: SPL)

In advice published on Tuesday, Public Health England (PHE) said clinical staff at GP surgeries, out-of-hours centres and walk-in centres should remain vigilant for signs of the disease and isolate any presenting patients suspected of being infected with the virus.

The guidance spells out how practices should transfer patients to hospitals, and the steps required to decontaminate the surgery afterwards.

There have been 3,052 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola and and 1,546 deaths in the current outbreak across West Africa.

The PHE guidance said: 'It remains unlikely, but not impossible, that travellers infected in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Nigeria could arrive in the UK while incubating the disease and develop symptoms after their return.'

GPs should suspect Ebola in patients who have a fever over 38C or a history of fever in the past 24 hours, and have either visited the affected area in the past three weeks or have been in contact with a person known to have viral haemorrhagic fever.

If such a patient presents at a practice, they should be isolated in a side room and staff should seek urgent advice from local microbiology, virology or infection disease experts. Staff in contact with the patient should wear protective clothing, and any rooms used to isolate a patient should be cleaned and decontaminated if Ebola is subsequently diagnosed.

The UK government has insisted the risk to the public from the current outbreak remains very low.

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