Common Questions about Ebola

We understand that Ebola is a cause of great public concern. Here are answers to common questions.

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1. What is Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) doing to protect patients, visitors, and staff from Ebola?

Experts from MSK’s Infection Control team are monitoring the outbreak in West Africa and cases in the United States. We are screening all patients before scheduled appointments and have additional screening in place for patients from the affected regions in West Africa.

If you  are a patient or caregiver who has traveled to Sierra Leone, Liberia, or Guinea in the past 21 days and you are planning to visit one of our locations, please contact your doctor’s office as soon as possible. If you are already at MSK, notify staff at the check-in desk immediately.

All employees who have traveled to the affected regions must receive medical clearance before returning to work.

Our staff is trained to meet all guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health. They include screening, isolation, and proper procedures for putting on and removing protective equipment (the head hood and body gown, face shields, masks, and gloves you may have seen in the news).

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2. Is MSK one of the hospitals designated to care for patients with Ebola?

No. Eight New York State and three New Jersey hospitals have been designated to care for patients with Ebola. They are:

  • Mount Sinai, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Bellevue in Manhattan;
  • Montefiore in the Bronx;
  • North Shore/LIJ Health System and Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island;
  • University Hospital in Syracuse and University of Rochester Medical Center in Upstate New York;
  • and Hackensack University Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

Our staff is prepared for all scenarios. If an MSK patient or employee is suspected to have Ebola, we have a protocol in place that includes placing the individual in isolation and working with the New York City Department of Health to transport the patient to one of the designated hospitals.

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3. What is Ebola and what are its symptoms?

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease. Ebola is spread through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone sick with the virus. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, body ache, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bleeding and bruising.

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4. How is Ebola spread?

Ebola viruses are transmitted through close and direct physical contact with blood or bodily fluids such as vomit, urine, feces, semen, saliva, or other fluids. Patients with Ebola are most contagious when severely ill.

Ebola is not spread by air, water, food, or casual contact.

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5. Is New York prepared for Ebola?

We understand that the Ebola virus is a cause of great public concern, especially now that it has been diagnosed in New York City. However, the city has been preparing for months and is well equipped to deal with the situation. 

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6. Is it safe to take public transportation?

Yes. The risk of contracting Ebola through casual contact, like riding the same subway car or sharing the same space with someone who’s infected but not sick, is extremely low and should not be a cause of concern.

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7. Where can I learn more about Ebola?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an excellent source of information:

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