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Glossary

Terms that may be commonly used when referring to Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola)

Cluster (of disease)
Refers to a number of cases of the same disease occurring in a group of people living or working in the same area.
The situation in Dallas, Texas, may be accurately described as a cluster.

Confirmed Case
Refers to an individual whose blood has tested positive for the Ebola virus, either through the LA County Department of Public Health Laboratory or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Laboratory.

Contact
Refers to a person who may have been exposed to a case of infectious disease.

Contact Investigation
Refers to a systematic process to:

  • identify persons (contacts) exposed to cases of infectious disease
  • assess contacts for infection
  • provide appropriate treatment.

Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola)
Previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Ebola Virus Disease is an uncommon and potentially fatal disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

EVD
An acronym for Ebola Virus Disease used in some academic literature. LA County Department of Public Health commonly refers to Ebola Virus Disease as Ebola.

Isolation
Separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who do not have the same disease or are not sick, typically in a health care setting. Health care facilities can effectively isolate a patient by placing that person in a single room with a door.

Outbreak
The occurrence of more cases of disease than normally expected within a specific place or group of people over a given period of time.
The situation in West Africa is accurately described as an outbreak.

Person Under Investigation (PUI)
An individual with a positive, confirmed travel history; a fever (101.5įF or higher); and other symptoms consistent with Ebola.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury.

Quarantine Separates and restricts the movement of well people who were exposed to a contagious disease for the duration of time of the longest incubation period (21 days for Ebola) to see if they become sick.

Quarantine Order
The California Health & Safety Code Section 120175 states: "Each health officer knowing or having reason to believe that any case of the diseases made reportable by regulation of the department, or any other contagious, infectious or communicable disease exists, or has recently existed, within the territory under his or her jurisdiction, shall take measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or occurrence of additional cases."

Suspected Case LA County Department of Public Health refers to an individual as a suspect case if they have a positive, confirmed travel history to one of the three countries in West Africa currently experiencing an Ebola outbreak, and where Acute Communicable Disease Control staff would need to collect further information about that individualís exposures to Ebola and current clinical symptoms.

Symptoms of Ebola
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Transmission (spread)
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus

Travel History
Refers to an individual's itinerary of travel. For Ebola, the primary origination points of concern include Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leona, as these are the three countries in West Africa currently affected by the Ebola outbreak on that continent.

In investigating a patientís travel history, the patient will be asked if they traveled from any of those countries, and what their interaction was with persons there who either are sick with Ebola or may have died from Ebola. Not all locations within those countries are experiencing the same level of outbreak; further information may be gathered from a possible Ebola patient to determine their likelihood of infection.



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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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