Guidance on assessing whether a patient has been infected with Ebola has been released by Public Health England (PHE).
The guide aimed at primary care, including GP surgeries and out of hours, has been released during the largest ever known outbreak of the disease.
PHE said that it “remains unlikely but not impossible” that travellers from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Nigeria could arrive in the UK incubating the disease, and develop symptoms after their return.
Patients presenting to primary care with a fever of >38°C or a fever in the past 24 hours who have visited any of the affected areas over the past 21 days could have Ebola.
Also, Ebola should be suspected in patients who have a fever of >38°C OR have a history of fever in the past 24 hours and have cared for / come into contact with body fluids of / handled clinical specimens (blood, urine, faeces, tissues, laboratory cultures) from an individual or laboratory animal known or strongly suspected to have viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF).
Ebola is one cause of VHF. Other viruses causing VHF are endemic in a small number of countries.
If Ebola is suspected, the patient should be isolated in a side room, and urgent clinical advice should be sought from the local microbiology, virologist or infectious disease physician.
Reception staff should be aware that any patients identifying themselves as feeling unwell who have visited VHF affected area should be isolated in a side room as soon as possible. They should not sit in the general waiting room.
More information on how to deal with patients over the phone and room decontamination is available online.