New CDC Ebola Guidelines Are "More Stringent" Than Ever Before
Following a week that saw two confirmed Ebola cases at a Dallas area hospital, federal health officials are increasing safety measures at U.S. medical centers to ensure an outbreak won't happen again. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that U.S. officials are issuing new Ebola guidelines for hospitals, including requiring all health-care workers treating infected patients to cover up from head to toe. These guidelines are an improvement on current Ebola protocol, which received heavy scrutiny in the last week after a nurses' union accused the Dallas hospital of failing to protect its workers.
In an interview with CBS News, Fauci said these new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control will "go a step further" than the ones developed by the World Health Organization. Although he couldn't comment on the specifics of the guidelines just yet, Fauci promised they would be "much more stringent" than the WHO protocol. Fauci explained:
The guidelines that were originally on the CDC were WHO guidelines that worked well for many, many years for approaching patients that had Ebola in an African setting, which is in a much less developed setting. Now when you have patients here, we do things that are much more aggressive with patients — intubation, human dialysis. So, the exposure level is a bit different, particularly because you're keeping patients alive ... So those guidelines had some aspects that we're going to improve on.
The NIAID director admitted that the WHO guidelines left some "exposure of skin." Now federal health officials want to ensure that that's "no longer the case," Fauci said. Under these new rules, health-care workers will have "essentially everything covered."
Fauci also appeared on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday, where he elaborated on some of the perceived failures of the U.S. health-care industry's response to this newfound Ebola outbreak:
We need to have more than just the four [units] in which you have people who are pre-trained, so that you don't come in, and then that's the first time you start thinking about it. It can't just be four. We may not even need any more, and we hope we don't.
However, the NIAID director said that while there have been some missteps over the last few weeks, this is the government's chance to "fine-tune" Ebola protocol. "We think about it every single day: How can we do better? What's the best way to do it?" Fauci said.
It's still unknown how Ebola-infected nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson contracted the virus while treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Both nurses were transferred to East Coast hospitals last week; Pham was taken to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, while Vinson was transported to Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
Images: Getty Images (3)