(Bloomberg) — Hospitals should limit their purchases of sterile Ebola equipment to make sure health workers in West Africa have enough gear, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Most hospitals need enough equipment — like face shields and impermeable gowns — for a day or two of patient care in case a person shows up to the emergency room without warning, the CDC said today in a statement. Medical facilities that have been designated for assessing and treating Ebola patients need more gear, the agency said.
“Hospitals should have the minimum amount of PPE on hand to match their role,” the CDC wrote, referring to personal protective equipment. “All hospitals do not need the same amount of PPE.”
Medical facilities have been pushing to prepare themselves for potential Ebola cases after two nurses in Texas were infected by a patient earlier this year, prompting the CDC to recommend greater safety protections in October. Earlier this month, Congress allocated more than $800 million to prepare and compensate states for readying for Ebola in the U.S.
Panic about the disease has diminished in the U.S., where a verified case of the virus hasn’t been diagnosed since November.
A patient who was exposed to the virus in West Africa and was transported Dec. 4 to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta doesn’t have Ebola, Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said in an e-mail. Nor does a similar patient who was treated this month at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. A CDC worker who was mistakenly exposed last week to the virus in a lab has shown no symptoms of the disease and is still being monitored.
The CDC is trying to preserve supplies for West Africa, where the virus continues to ravage communities, according to Abbigail Tumpey, a spokeswoman for the agency.
“I wouldn’t say that any hospitals have too much for their current needs, but you can imagine that with the outbreak going on in western Africa that PPE is a resource that needs to be protected,” Tumpey said in a phone interview.
Ebola continues to devastate West Africa. More than 20,170 cases have been diagnosed in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where 7,890 people have died of the virus, the World Health Organization said today.