Ebola: How to Prevent Infection

Ebola: How to Prevent Infection

Ebola is a deadly virus that can cause severe uncontrollable bleeding both inside and outside, which is why the disease it causes was called “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever” but is now called “Ebola Virus Disease”. The mortality rate is as high as 90% (average 50%).

The good news, relatively speaking, is that Ebola is not as contagious as the common cold or flu. It is primarily spread by touching the skin or body fluids of a person who is infected–but once the virus is on your body, it must find a broken skin surface or come in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth. This is why frequent hand washing is so imperative for preventing all viruses, Ebola included. During high viral outbreaks (Ebola, flu or even the common cold), avoid touching your face which can bring the virus from your hand to a place it can enter your body.

In Africa, it can move from animal to person, with monkeys,

Disposal of a monkey

Disposal of a monkey

chimps and fruit bats. It is possible to get Ebola from touching a contaminated surface.

You can NOT get Ebola from water or food–or from the air. It requires direct contact with the person or a surface they have contaminated. Also, if they have no symptoms, they can’t spread the disease to you.

The symptoms of Ebola usually show up about 2-21 days after exposure and primary presenting symptoms include a high fever, headaches, muscle and join pain, sore throat, weakness, stomach pain and loss of appetite. Only once the disease gets worse will the bleeding internally and from the eye, ears and nose begin. Vomiting, diarrhea, rash also follow.

There is no cure and no vaccine for Ebola. Most treatment is purely supportive with fluids, oxygen and blood transfusions.

The World Health Organization recommends that healthcare workers take extra

Healthcare worker precautions

Healthcare worker precautions

infection control measures when in close contact (within 1 meter) which would include face shield or medical mask and goggles as well as a clean, non-sterile long sleeved gown and gloves. All contaminated surfaces should be avoided and use of proper protection when cleaning. The CDC and WHO state waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used as long as hands are physically clean/not visibly soiled.

According to International SOS, there is “low risk” for infection when exposed to someone with Ebola during international airport transit. They clarify that the virus does not travel through the air or via insect bites. The current outbreak is spreading person to person, via bodily fluids like blood, vomit, semen, sweat, etc.

The World Health Organization states that travellers should always be vigilant with regard to their health and those around them. Stay away from people who look obviously sick, at least at a distance of 3 feet. Avoid direct unprotected contact with sick people and their body fluids. Pay strict attention to hygiene. Wash your hands often.