Infection prevention & control challenges with the management of a suspected case of Ebola Virus Disease

Ruth Barratt 1

Clinical Nurse Specialist, Infection Prevention & Control, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand


In August 2014, The World Health Organisation declared that the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa met the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Christchurch Hospital, New Zealand, was designated by the Ministry of Health as one of the four New Zealand centres to receive and care for a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and had been preparing for such an event since September 2014. In February 2015 Christchurch Hospital admitted a case of suspected EVD.

The infection prevention & control (IPC) challenges of caring for the first suspected EVD case admitted to a New Zealand Hospital are presented. These include urgent training front line staff in the use of additional PPE, the defects of less than optimal PPE, disposing of large amounts of clinical waste and communicating with a variety of staff groups amidst an air of fear and unknown.

Although our hospital had planned and prepared well, the real life situation presented practice issues that required immediate resolution. An experienced infection prevention and control team was able to work through the challenges and provide support to staff who would be involved in the direct care of the patient.

The admission of a ‘real’ case of EVD identified significant challenges that the IPC team was able to address, using their own experience and working along side front line staff.

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