Dialysis facilities have infection control policies and procedures in place to protect their patients and staff from coming in contact with any blood borne diseases, but diligence in following those policies and procedures is imperative to protect us all.

Dialysis staff are instructed to treat all patients with standard precautions. These include gloves, masks over the nose and mouth, shields or goggles for eye protection and waterproof gowns whenever there is risk for exposure.

Staff should wash their hands and change gloves between every patient to reduce the risk of transmission of any infectious material, in particular blood.  You should always advocate for yourself if you do not find that your healthcare workers are using proper precautions in your care.

You should be aware that some viruses can live out of the body on dry surfaces like TV screens, chairs and door knobs for up to 7 days.  That is why the clinics use a bleach solution to disinfect these surfaces and utilize an isolation room for patients that test positive for the hepatitis B virus.

Ebola is not an airborne virus, which means it is not spread through the air. It is spread by direct contact through a wound or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth with blood, urine, saliva, sweat, bowel excrement, vomit, breast milk and semen from a person who is infected by the virus or animals that are infected.

The time it takes for the virus to become evident is up to 21 days. During this time, people are not known to be contagious. Once they show symptoms though, they are then contagious.

Unlike the hepatitis B virus, Ebola cannot survive for days on dried surfaces, but it can survive for several hours and can be destroyed using the same bleach solution that the dialysis staff are instructed to use in their disinfection procedures between treatments.

If you have questions about Ebola virus disease, please see the CDC website (www.cdc.gov) or contact 1-800-CDC-INFO.