The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has had more cases and deaths than all others Ebola outbreaks combined. Termed as the most complex and largest, this outbreak has claimed 6388 lives as of December 7, 2014.
Ebola virus disease is an acute, severe illness in humans with an average fatality rate of 50%, which in some outbreaks has gone up to as high as 90%. No FDA approved medication is available for the disease, but various precautionary measures can tell you how to prevent Ebola and not get infected by the dangerous disease.
Ways to prevent Ebola
1. Keeping safe distance: Ebola spreads through an infected person’s (or non-human primates, bats) body fluids such as blood, semen etc. through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth .
One of the best ways to prevent Ebola is avoid taking any risk to virus exposure, ensure that you keep away from unnecessarily/accidentally touching or handling a sick patient’s personal belongings like clothes, bedding, or even needles and medical equipment.
You are also preventing Ebola if you avoid any contact with bats and non-human primates such as chimpanzees, monkeys etc. inhabiting the infected areas. Do not engage in activities that involve handling, preparing or eating food/meat prepared from these animals.
2. Good hygiene, protective equipment to preventing Ebola: Follow proper hygiene especially if you find yourself in the vicinity of an infected person or affected region/area. Make use of alcohol-based sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water whenever necessary. One of the effective ways to prevent Ebola is to avoid any direct contact with the infected person’s blood or body fluids. If you are from the healthcare facility treating a patient or a person visiting an Ebola patient, wear appropriate personal protective equipment provided by the facility for preventing Ebola.
3. Avoid travelling to infected regions: The 2014 outbreak set off in West Africa and has spread to proximal and non-proximal major urban and rural areas. Countries with widespread transmissions are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierre Leone, while countries with localized transmission (/initial case) or previously affected countries have been United States, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Spain. Avoid traveling to such regions to ensure complete safety from the disease. If you can’t avoid traveling, make sure you have all infection related updates and information for the place you are about to visit. Reliable websites for latest news and warnings about preventing Ebola are the CDC and WHO.
4. Burial ceremony, healthcare facility: Coming in contact with the infected body increases your chances of contracting the disease. Avoid burial or funeral ceremonies that require you to come in direct contact with or handling the infected deceased person. It is also recommended that you keep away from healthcare facilities like hospitals or clinics treating Ebola patients to minimize disease contraction risks.
5. Identifying symptoms: Make yourself aware of all the possible symptoms related to the Ebola virus disease to protect yourself better from the disease. Common symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weakness. Other less common symptoms include: rash, redness in the eye, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, bleeding inside and outside the body.
Common symptoms usually show up within 2 to 21 days, most likely in a week.
6. Notifying: If for any reason you find that you have made contact with an infected person’s body fluids or blood, immediately notify nearby health officials. The quicker you are diagnosed of the disease that much faster you will start receiving the treatment for the disease. Body fluids include (but not limited to) feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen.
Understanding and implementing these basic, preventative measures can help you in knowing how to prevent Ebola virus disease, and restrict further spread of the disease.