Early Detection is Key
A travel history is a key part of assessing sick patients especially during entry to a healthcare facility, due to special pathogens like:
and other travel-associated infections such as:
Taking a travel history is an important part of:
- providing rapid triage.
- isolating patients promptly.
- starting infection control measures to minimize the spread of infectious diseases to other patients and healthcare staff.
Infection control measures may include:
- placing a facemask over the patient's nose and mouth (for those with respiratory illness)
- placing an ill patient in a private room
- asking the patient to perform hand hygiene by washing their hands or applying hand gel.
Screening and Triage
When you evaluate patients for acute illness, ask: "Have you traveled internationally within the past 3 weeks (21 days)"?
Acute symptoms that could indicate an infection include:
- new respiratory symptoms
- fever (≥100.4◦F or 38.0◦C)
- a rash.
Place patients who answer "yes" to recent travel and acute illness in a private room until they can be evaluated by a health professional. Follow infection prevention precautions based on their symptoms and per your facility's protocol.
For patients that report recent travel and acute symptoms, assess the following:
- severity of illness
- travel itinerary
- underlying illness
- recent exposure to an infection.
Screening and infection control guidance resources
Clinical Evaluation Resources
It is important to assess the severity of illness, travel itinerary, underlying illness, and individual exposure history in order to triage the patient and to distinguish certain infections from each other.
During the 2014-16 Western Africa Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a tiered healthcare model to identify and manage patients with suspect and confirmed special pathogens.
In Washington, there are frontline, assessment and treatment facilities. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane was designated by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in 2015 as one of 10 Regional Treatment centers in the country, serving Region X (Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska).