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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Prevent Ebola

How to Prevent Ebola

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is a severe and sometimes-fatal disease in humans and primates, the precise origin of which remains unknown. Most researchers believe the disease is zoonotic, meaning "animal-borne." Named after the Ebola river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease was first recognized, the disease has been confirmed in Gabon, Sudan, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Uganda, since its discovery in 1976. You can learn to avoid the infection, protect yourself from its effects, and what steps to take in the event you become infected.


Avoiding the Infection
  1. Understand how the disease is spread. Ebola HF can be spread in a number of ways, though primarily via direct contact with patients, specifically the blood and secretions of an infected patient. Contact with objects such as clothing, bedding, and needles have also been linked to the spread of the disease.[1]
    • Because the symptoms of Ebola HF are non-specific and take a while to become severe, the spread of the disease to friends, family, and throughout hospitals is extremely common. In a healthcare setting, the reuse of unsterilized needles and the lack of proper hospital clothing has contributed to the spread of the disease near the source.
  2. Avoid areas in which infections have been reported and suspected. For now, the disease has only been confirmed in central and west Africa, and spread primarily around healthcare facilities where patients are being treated. For the most up-to-date travel warnings and information about potential outbreaks, visit the Centers for Disease control website here.
    • In general, you should avoid areas in which the disease has been reported and suspected. If you're already there, try and avoid healthcare facilities, unless you yourself suspect you may be infected. Avoid direct contact with the infected, or anyone you suspect to be infected, displaying the symptoms of the illness.[2]
  3. Avoid direct contact with infected people. Because the disease is spread primarily via direct contact with infected patients, the best way to avoid infection is to steer clear of people who are already sick. Blood and other bodily secretions from infected patients are linked closely with the spread of the disease.
    • The remains of infected bodies are just as contagious, making it important to handle the deceased with extreme care. Avoid direct contact with bodies and with the bedding and clothing of the deceased.
  4. Avoid eating wild-caught bush meat. Researchers have their suspicions that the disease came to humans via animals, probably through the consumption of the meat of primates. If you're in an area where the disease has been reported, avoid purchasing, eating, or handling wild game to stay on the safe side.[3]
Protecting Yourself From Infection
  1. Learn to recognize the symptoms of Ebola HF. The more you know about recognizing the symptoms of infection, the better protected you'll be. While the symptoms of infection are somewhat general, you can use your judgment to determine whether or not your proximity to the infection and the symptoms you note might signify the presence of the disease. Symptoms have appeared anywhere from 48 hours following exposure to three weeks after exposure, though most symptoms should appear in about a week.[4]
    • Common symptoms of the disease include:
      • Fever
      • Headache
      • Joint and muscle aches
      • Weakness
      • Diarrhea
      • Vomiting
      • Stomach pain
      • Lack of appetite
    • Less common symptoms include:
      • Rash
      • Redness in the eyes
      • Hiccups
      • Cough
      • Sore throat
      • Chest pain
      • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
      • Bleeding inside and outside of the body
  2. Wear protective medical clothing if you're around infected patients. While it's best to avoid areas of infection entirely, if you're working in a healthcare or volunteer capacity around infected patients, the use of extreme caution is necessary. The CDC recommends that hospital workers use disposable masks, gloves, goggles, and gowns, which need to be worn at all times if you're around infected patients.
    • It's also important to never reuse needles that were used to treat infected patients, and to discard bedding and clothing that came in direct contact with infected patients. Extreme caution is necessary.
  3. Disinfect all medical hardware. Anything that comes into contact with infected patients, or with the bodily fluids of infected patients needs to be sterilized immediately following use. Disinfectant needs to be used liberally in patients' rooms, around sleeping areas specifically, to avoid the spread of the infection.
    • To sterilize medical instruments following proper procedures, rinse them thoroughly immediately following use while wearing protective mask, gloves, and gown. Then, allow instruments to dry thoroughly before packing into a disinfectant pouch. Label and initial the instruments.
    • Place sterilization pouches upside down in the sterilization tray, allowing enough space between them for steam to circulate, at least an inch. Operate the sterilizer according to proper procedures and then catalog the instruments and label them sterilized.
  4. Practice barrier nursing and quarantine infected patients. If you're working with the infected, the highest level of security needs to be practiced. Plastic zipper barriers are being employed in some hospitals to minimize the contact that health care professionals have with infected patients, and in most hospitals patients are being quarantined, separated from the general population to minimize the risk of disease spreading. Direct contact with patients needs to be minimized as much as possible.
  5. Wash your hands regularly. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap is absolutely essential, especially if you're in an area of infection. You should wash your hands, up to the elbow, before removing your hospital gown and other protective wear, and again after removal is complete.
Taking Action if You Are Infected
  1. Get a diagnosis. Diagnosis via symptom is somewhat difficult, because the symptoms are general. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms described above, however, and you're in an area with reported infections, it's essential that you go to the hospital immediately and have a diagnostic test performed.[5] Depending on the facility and the amount of time since your symptoms appeared, any of the following diagnostic tests may be performed:
    • Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing
    • IgM ELISA
    • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
    • Virus isolation
  2. Contact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) immediately. If you're in an area of infection and suspect that you may be infected, contact the CDC immediately to report your illness. Keeping the disease contained is essential, meaning that new infections need to be reported as quickly as possible to spread the resources and put into place efficient quarantines.
  3. Maintain your electrolytes and stay hydrated. There is no vaccine for Ebola HF, so most of the treatment available involves addressing the specific symptoms and making the patient comfortable. One of the most uncomfortable symptoms of the disease is severe diarrhea and nausea, making it important that you stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes up. Sports drinks can be used for mild dehydration, but IV-drip should be used in serious cases.
  4. Monitor your blood pressure and control it if necessary. Rising blood pressure can destabilize a patient, while dropping blood pressure may be a serious sign of infection, making it important to keep your blood pressure under control, monitored closely. Make sure the doctors are keeping a close watch on your blood pressure.[6]
  5. Breathe an oxygen-rich environment. Difficulty breathing and chest pains are common in the infected, so oxygen is typically administered to make breathing as easy as possible. If you're struggling to get your breath, talk to a nurse immediately and have your levels checked.
  6. Quickly address any symptoms of infection. It's important to communicate openly with the hospital staff and let them know of any discomfort or complications so that they may address your symptoms programmatically. Infections need to be treated locally with antibiotics and addressed swiftly, so be honest about when and where you're feeling pain.
  7. Rest. There's unfortunately not much you can do but try to ride out the disease, if you're infected. Keep your strength up, stay hydrated, and try to get as much rest as possible. The disease is fatal in roughly 50% of the cases, but patients in good health with strong immune systems can pull through with swift care and safe recovery practices. For you, that means staying put and getting some rest.
  8. Stay abreast of treatment options. Currently, there has been no vaccine successfully tested on humans, though scientists are racing around the clock to pioneer a cure for this disease. Check in with the CDC periodically for more information regarding potential cures.


  • Read the CDC handbook on Ebola precautions. This can be found online in PDF format.
  • Avoid Ebola patients. If you are a healthcare worker and this is not possible, follow all precautions suggested by the CDC and WHO.
  • Wash your hands and always wear gloves and masks around people with undiagnosed sickness.
  • Take advantage of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization's websites. They often publish records of recent outbreaks. Avoid travel to places where Ebola is known to be.
  • Don't panic. Unless you live in an area where outbreaks are common, the odds of you contracting Ebola are almost none.
  • Avoid disturbing African cave and jungle habitat as these disturbances are thought to be the main source of Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks.
  • If you are concerned, do research about Ebola and its history.


  • If you suspect that you have an undiagnosed illness, please contact a health professional.

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