Alicia: So, let’s talk about Ebola.

  1. How come I can’t find Ebola in my manual?
  2. Well, it’s not really so unusual, because it’s not on our radar, but it is actually in the manual. Let’s first find out what Ebola is. That’s the best place to start. I went to the CDC to see what they would have to say.   Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, which that gives you a head’s up, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains – so there is more than one. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River, thus its name, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. And now, of course, we know we have it in the United States.

The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown.   However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa. So, again, 5 strains of the Ebola virus.

Medical Coding for Ebola – Video

Ebola is in everyone’s radar right now, of course, we’re seeing it on the news. This is how we look it up.

You go to the ICD-9: and this is a lesson in trusting your index. We know it’s a fever, we know is a hemorrhagic fever, and then you look under Ebola and you can get 065.8: Other specified arthropod-borne hemorrhagic fever, mite-borne hemorrhagic fever. Now, that tells you that that’s Ebola. But if you go into Infection, and then subterm Ebola, you get 078.89: Other specified diseases due to virus. They sub-list Epidemic cervical myalgia and Marburg disease.

It’s kind of understood, when we did research, both of these are valid Ebola codes, but which one’s the best code? Some are telling us they believe the 078.89 is, and others are saying that it’s 065.8. I think the CDC doesn’t tell us which one to use right now. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about it much longer having both of these codes and trying to decide which one to go with because ICD-10 is going to take care of it. ICD-10 has A98.4: Ebola virus disease.

So, again, right now we have 2 different codes. One

[065.8] is looked up via Fever, Hemorrhagic, Ebola and this is what the CDC says it is, it’s a hemorrhagic fever, and the virus is Ebola. And this [078.89] is an infection due to the Ebola virus.

Both of these are in your ICD-9-CM and that’s the way you look them up.

So yet, it’s kind of confusing, but this lets you know how important it is to get your coding to the highest specificity, because it’s based on statistics, right? So whichever code we use will lead us to the statistic of whether it’s a “Fever, Hemorrhagic, Ebola” or “Infection, Ebola”.

Very interesting, great question, thanks a lot.

Get More Details about Medical Coding for Ebola

Coding for Basic Injections in the Primary Care Practice

AAPC – Ebola is on American’s minds. What is the ICD-9-CM code for Ebola?

medical coding for ebola


About the Author:

Alicia has been working in the medical field for over 20 years. She first learned about medical coding while working in a medical records department at a resort town hospital near where she was raised. Through the years she has held several jobs in the medical field from, CNA, EMT, Pharmacy technician and Medial Records Abstractor and Analyst. Outside of the medical field she has worked as a Real Estate agent, and owned her own on-line retail business. The medical field has always been where she felt the most comfortable. Alicia has taught medical coding, billing and medical law and ethics at a private college. She also did contract work in HCC Risk Adjustment and discovered she really enjoyed ICD work. Because she loves to learn Alicia is working towards her Masters in Health Care Administration with an emphasis on education. Having taken many online classes through the years to complete her degree she feels very comfortable with both face to face and on-line learning. Alicia will tell you that not only does she love medical coding but she has a passion for teaching it. Alicia lives in the middle of Texas with her husband who is a Pastor, five of her six children, three dogs and two cats.

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