Advice for GPs and their staff on Ebola

14 Nov 2014

The Office of Health Protection (OHP) has now released updated advice on the evaluation of patients with possible Ebolavirus disease (Ebola). The advice also provides important reassurances on the chances of Ebola making it to Australia and on the current measures that have been put in place to contain any outbreak.

According to the OHP, it is very unlikely that a febrile patient in primary care will have Ebola. The risk of infection is very low even in persons with a compatible travel history, unless there has been direct exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Arrivals from West Africa number approximately 10 per week. All travellers will be given two new cards on arrival; one (Travel History Ebola Information) listing the West African countries involved and the second (Ebola Identified Traveller) alerting the traveller of any symptoms occurring within 21 days of arrival and advising the action/telephone numbers to call.

For someone who has arrived from West Africa, they will be moved to a quarantined area, where their temperature will be taken and the risk assessed. Their details will be sent to the relevant Public Health Unit (PHU) for monitoring and follow-up.

If a returned traveller develops symptoms after entry into Australia, they are advised not to contact their GP, but rather to call the dedicated national Ebola hotline, 1800 186 815. The DoH has developed material for GPs on the evaluation of patients with possible Ebola and advises that the GP must notify a suspected case immediately to their state/territory communicable disease branch/centre to discuss referral.

The material prepared by the Department is important and provides a significant measure of reassurance for front line GPs about the risks of a patient presenting with the Ebola virus. It provides clear advice on the steps you need to take with a suspected case and all key practice staff should read it.

To download a copy of the latest advice, including a simple flow chart and more detailed information, please click here.