PloS one 2017 05 1112(5) e0177350 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0177350
Health care workers (HCWs) in contact with patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) are exposed to a risk of viral contamination. Fomites contaminated with the patient’s blood or body fluids represents this risk. Our study aims to detect Ebola virus (EBOV) RNA within the high- and low-risk areas of an Ebola treatment unit (ETU) located in inland Guinea during the 2014-2015 West African Ebola epidemics. For samples from patients’ immediate vicinity, we aim to seek an association between viral RNA detectability and level of plasma viral load of patients (intermediate to high, or very high).
Swabbing was performed on immediate vicinity of Ebola patients, on surfaces of an ETU, and on personal protective equipment (PPE) of HCWs after patient care and prior to doffing. All samples were assessed by quantitative reverse-transcribed PCR (RT-qPCR).
32% (22/68) of swabs from high-risk areas were tested positive for EBOV RNA, including 42% (18/43) from patients’ immediate vicinity, and 16% (4/25) from HCWs PPE. None of specimens from low-risk areas were tested positive (0/19). Swabs were much more often viral RNA positive in the vicinity of patients with a very high plasma viral load (OR 6.7, 95% CI [1.7-23.4]).
Our findings show the persistence of EBOV RNA in the environment of Ebola patients and of HCWs, in a Guinean ETU, despite strict infection prevention and control measures. This detection raises the possibility that patients’ environment could be a potential source of contamination with the virus.