Ebola and Dentistry

Ebola and Dentistry

How Ebola and Dentistry affect each other is now a topic that must be thought about. With the recent outbreak of Ebola virus in West africa, we face the concern of a patient with Ebola possibly visiting the dentist. As such Ebola and Dentistry must be evaluated in terms of safety to patients and dental staff.Ebola and Dentistry

The Ebola Virus

This virus is part of a class of viruses called hemorrhagic fevers. Once it is acquired, the patient begins a rapid process of disease culminating in massive internal bleeding and bleeding from bodily orifices. It has a death rate of 50%-90%.  Until this present outbreak, Ebola appeared in remote parts of Africa , and it killed who it was able to but due to the  isolated area, it rarely spread. What makes this outbreak so dangerous is that it has now found its way to population centers and from there it can travel via an infected patient on a plane to other parts of the world. It is only transmitted by direct fluid exchange. Ie, blood, semen,sweat,saliva. It is not transmitted via the air.

Signs and Symptoms of Ebola

In any discussion of Ebola and Dentistry,, we need to understand the disease. The American Dental association in conjunction with the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) list the following.

The most common signs and symptoms of Ebola infection are:

  • fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F) and severe headache
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising

Disease Transmission

The good news is that  Ebola and Dentistry have a small chance of interacting. The disease is non transmissible if there are no symptoms. Since it takes from 2-21 days Ebola and Dentistryfrom exposure to symptoms, we should first be asking patients who have the above symptoms  if they have recently been in West African nations. Most people with symptoms will be too sick to visit a dentist, making our expose unlikely. Universal precautions of gloves and proper sterilization methods renders the virus noninfective. So in summary,  Ebola and Dentistry can theoretically be a concern, but as of now, it is extremely minor.