In view of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the Ministry of Health wishes to issue the following update and guidance:
The disease was first discovered in 1976 in an outbreak that occurred in the Congo close to the Ebola River. Thus the source of its name. After this, over the years, there have been additional sporadic outbreaks in Africa (e.g. in Zaire, Gabon). The current outbreak of Ebola virus disease commenced in December 2013 in Guinea in West Africa, and it spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. A few cases have recently been diagnosed also in Nigeria, and in the last few weeks, a number of imported cases have been described in the United States and in Saudi Arabia, with no local transmission.
Thus far, there are no known diagnosed or suspected cases in Israel.
Guidelines for Persons Travelling To and Returning From Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
The Ministry of Health advises avoiding travel, so far as possible, to the countries in which the disease is spreading: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
For persons who nevertheless do travel to the above countries, below are recommendations for correct behavior:
- Avoid contact with patients, their secretions and their belongings.
- Take care with personal hygiene.
- Avoid contact with animals and their secretions, carcasses and even eating meat.
- So far as possible, it is advisable to avoid visiting heath care institutions. It is recommended to avoid receiving service at the local hospitals in these countries, except in case of an urgent medical problem.
After returning to Israel:
If illness with a fever of over 38 degrees appears within 21 days of returning to Israel from endemic countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), go a hospital emergency room and inform them of the appearance of fever after having been in a country affected by Ebola. During this period, go only to the emergency room for medical treatment of illness with fever. Immediately on entering hospital, inform them of the circumstances of the case, in order to receive appropriate guidelines for protection.
It should be emphasized that this is a dynamic scenario, and the Ministry of Health is therefore monitoring data that are being publicized internationally and is in contact with all relevant parties, including the World Health Organization, the Disease Control Centers in the United States and in Europe, and is accordingly holding discussions with professionals.
In accordance with assessment of the current situation, the Ministry does not anticipate an outbreak of the disease in Israel, but there could be imported cases, which the health system is prepared to deal with. The Ministry of Health has distributed a circular to professionals, with the aim of increasing awareness of the possibility of the disease being diagnosed, and the ways for dealing with the case in the event of morbidity in Israel.