Recent cases of the Ebola virus infection diagnosed in West Africa underscore the potential for travel-associated spread of the infection and risks of Ebola virus infection to health care workers. Mayo Medical Laboratories would like to remind its clients that samples should not be submitted to any reference laboratory for any type of testing if a patient is being investigated for a viral hemorrhagic fever (e.g., Ebola virus) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Testing for these infectious diseases must be coordinated with local public health authorities.
While the possibility of infected persons entering the United States remains low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that health care providers in the U.S. consider Ebola virus in the differential diagnosis of sudden onset of fever and malaise with other nonspecific signs and symptoms, such as myalgia, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea in any person with recent travel history (within 21 days) in the affected countries and that they also consider isolation of those patients meeting these criteria, pending diagnostic testing.
To ensure health care providers know how to handle suspected cases, Mayo Medical Laboratories advises the following:
- Contact your state health laboratory and/or the CDC immediately if a patient meets the case definition for Ebola virus disease (EVD). (Review this CDC Health Advisory.)
- Clinical specimens from patients being evaluated for EVD should not be submitted to Mayo Medical Laboratories. This includes, but is not limited to, requests for microbiological and non-microbiological (e.g., routine chemistry, serology, histopathology) testing.
- For additional information on specimen collection, testing, and infection control measures, please review the official CDC Health Advisory, dated Aug. 1, 2014.