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CDC Tightens Guidelines on Caring for Patients With Ebola

Full body suits, respirators recommended, along with monitor to observe workers removing gear

TUESDAY, Oct. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tightened previous infection control guidance for health care workers caring for patients with Ebola, the organization announced on Monday.

The CDC decided to issue the update after two Dallas nurses contracted Ebola while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States. The nurses, who are employees at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had been following Ebola guidelines that the CDC first issued in 2008 and updated this August, CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said during a Monday evening news briefing.

The enhanced guidelines issued Monday, which are intended to create an "increased margin of safety," call for heavy training in the use of protective equipment; suits that cover the entire body; and designated monitors to ensure gear is worn and removed properly. Health care workers must undergo rigorous and repeated training in donning and doffing all this gear, until it becomes "ritualized," Frieden said.

Frieden said the stricter guidelines are needed because the experience in Dallas has shown that U.S. health care workers face different challenges than health care professionals working in West Africa, scene of the worst Ebola outbreak in history. "The way care is given in this country is riskier than in Africa," Frieden said. "There's more hands-on nursing care, and there are more high-risk procedures, such as intubation."

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