Antoni Andreu, Director of the Carlos III Health Institute, and José Ramón Arribas, Head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the La Paz-Carlos III Hospital Complex, talk to us about the protocol in place for treating patients who have the Ebola virus, who sets up said protocols and when they are activated.
ARE THERE PROTOCOLS IN PLACE FOR TREATING EBOLA PATIENTS?
ANTONI ANDREU: There is one single agreed-upon protocol for the healthcare systems of all 17 autonomous regions.
JOSÉ RAMÓN ARRIBAS: The protocol for the healthcare workers who are in contact with patients, healthcare workers that protect themselves and make use of personal protection equipment. They are referred to as ‘protected contacts’ and they are considered low-risk.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS ARE TAKEN AFTER TREATING A SICK PATIENT?
ANTONI ANDREU: Whenever healthcare professionals treat an infected patient in a situation of perfect control and perfect isolation under biosafety conditions, they are required to measure their own temperature twice a day for a period of 21 days after completing the treatment process and notify an epidemiological register of the results.
JOSÉ RAMÓN ARRIBAS: If they develop any symptoms, they must immediately contact the occupational health team of the hospital so these symptoms can be assessed.
WHO SETS UP THE PROTOCOLS?
ANTONI ANDREU: These protocols are initially set up by international bodies, basically the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which issue a number of general protocols that each country then specifically adapts to its own characteristics and requirements. There is indeed a series of global principles.
JOSÉ RAMÓN ARRIBAS: Obviously, considering that this is the first time we are seeing Ebola patients in the developed world, those protocols are being revised. You have to understand that what might have worked for a certain situation in Africa may not be exactly what we need to do in developed countries.
WHEN ARE THESE PROTOCOL ACTIVATED?
JOSÉ RAMÓN ARRIBAS: The protocol has been in place for as long as we have known about Ebola and since this epidemic appeared in West Africa; since the end of last year, when the first case appeared.
ANTONI ANDREU: All healthcare professionals currently forming part of the healthcare service in the country have information on the activation schedule for each one of the specific steps in the protocol for the possible presence of an Ebola case.