Key Points for GPs

Consider EVD in patients who report:

  • travel to an Ebola-affected country [1] within 21 days of illness onset AND
  • have a history of FEVER or other symptoms [2] consistent with Ebola

If a GP is concerned that a patient may have Ebola they should:

  • isolate the patient in a single room
  • restrict access to the patient's room
  • keep at least 1 metre away from the patient and avoid direct contact
  • seek urgent advice from an Infectious Disease Physician at your nearest tertiary referral hospital and
  • call your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.

DO NOT COLLECT BLOOD OR OTHER CLINICAL SAMPLES

[1]. The EVD outbreak in the west African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has declined but all three countries remain on alert, particularly due to the risk of re-emergence of the virus in previously affected individuals. Situation Updates are provided by WHO here.

[2]. EVD symptoms include: myalgia, severe headache, pharyngitis, conjunctival injection, vomiting, diarrhoea.

Background information

General Practitioners should remain alert to the possibility of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in sick travellers returning from affected parts of West Africa. Although travellers from EVD-affected areas are not being advised to go to GPs if they develop symptoms, general practice staff need to be prepared if they are contacted by these patients of if they present for care.

Patients with EVD generally have sudden onset of a fever and other symptoms typically commencing 8 to12 days after exposure, but onset can be delayed up to 21 days. Initial signs and symptoms are often non-specific. Diarrhoea and vomiting tend to be more prominent later in the illness.

Due to the non-specific early symptoms, EVD may be confused with other more common infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, dengue, meningococcemia, and other bacterial infections.

The risk of EVD infection is extremely low unless there has been direct exposure to the body fluids of an infected person.

Additional information

Page Updated: Thursday 12 November 2015