Advice on the Ebola Virus

With Ebola once again rearing its ugly head in the Congo, here is some advice on the ebola virus from the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with
– a sick person’s blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen)
– objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids
– and infected animalsHealthcare workers and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick, because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids.

During outbreaks of Ebola HF, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to ebolaviruses can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.

Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.

If you must travel to an area with known Ebola cases, make sure to do the following:
-Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
-Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
-Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
-Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
-Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
-After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.

Symptoms of Ebola typically include:
Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
Severe headache
Muscle pain
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Lack of appetite
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebola virus, although 8-10 days is most common.

Some who become sick with Ebola are able to recover. We do not yet fully understand why. However, patients who die usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus at the time of death.