Of course, no one wants to catch Ebola. It is worth knowing the facts about how it is spread, what the incubation period is, and how you can avoid or lessen your exposure to the disease.
The incubation period from the time of exposure to the virus to the onset of symptoms is between 2 and 21 days. During that incubation time period, a person is not considered to be contagious. Contagion begins once symptoms have occurred.
What Are Ebola Symptoms?
Ebola symptoms are similar to symptoms of the flu. They include a sudden fever accompanied by fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and a sore throat. Secondary and more serious symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, kidney and liver problems, and bleeding, either internally or externally.
There is no proven cure for Ebola, but some effective treatments include fluids with electrolytes, oxygen, blood transfusions, immunotherapy and anti-viral drugs.
How You Can Protect Yourself:
There are many different bodily secretions that can carry the virus aside from the obvious ones mentioned above. Other carriers can include saliva, urine, semen, breast milk, and vomit, for example.
1. If you live in an area where the infections have been reported, stay away from healthcare facilities, if possible. Keep your distance from anyone who has symptoms of the illness, who looks feverish, is complaining of a sore throat and muscle aches, plus vomiting and/or diarrhea and other less common symptoms such as a cough, reddened eyes and hiccups.
2. As with any potentially infectious disease, hand-washing is essential. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, using anti-bacterial soap. If you should happen to touch a doorknob or sink handle that is contaminated, you can contract the disease. So wash your hands, then use a clean paper towel to turn the sink handle off, open the bathroom door, and then avoid touching your face just in case you did touch a contaminated surface.
3. Avoid shaking hands with people until the risk of spreading the illness is under control.
4. If anyone you know has come down with Ebola, keep your distance and insist they seek help as soon as possible. Do not touch that person's bedding, mattress, clothing, surfaces, or utensils/dining-ware they have used.
5. While using a public toilet is unlikely to be a great risk for contracting Ebola, since someone showing symptoms is probably already in a hospital or suffering at home, it makes sense to avoid the use of public rest rooms or to take precautions by using a protective cover on the toilet seat or not letting your skin touch the seat.
6. Semen can carry the virus, staying in the system of someone who is infected for as long as 90 days after they have recovered. So, obviously, avoid sexual contact with anyone who has had Ebola for at least 3 months after they have gotten better.
7. If you take taxis or public transportation, it is possible that somebody may have contaminated a seat or door handle with infected fluids. If you avoid touching your face, where infections can enter the body, and wash your hands after leaving public transport, you will probably not become infected.
8. If you do not have to fly to West Africa, do not go until the Ebola outbreak is under complete control. The second healthcare worker who was diagnosed with Ebola had just flown on a U.S. domestic flight the day before she was diagnosed. This person was not yet showing symptoms while in flight, so passengers are not likely to have been infected, but this scenario may make many people reconsider flying on a plane until things have calmed down. Airline officials are now stopping infected persons or those with a fever from boarding flights, but keep in mind that somebody who is feverish may take a dose of aspirin or fever medication, bringing their body temperature down to normal, thus their illness becoming undetectable until it is perhaps too late.
Healthcare workers will have much stricter guidelines to follow than the above to protect themselves from contracting Ebola. If everyone is careful and the healthcare system is diligent in stopping the spread of the disease, the Ebola virus can be stopped in its tracks before it becomes a major outbreak in the U.S. Unless you are a healthcare worker who has been in direct contact with a patient suffering from the Ebola virus, it is unlikely that you will contract the disease. The same is true if you are living with someone who has the virus -- the closer your contact with an Ebola victim, the higher your chances are of catching the virus.
Although the probability of the Ebola virus spreading throughout the United States is highly unlikely, the media has blown the threat all out of proportion, inducing the general population into a frenzied state of panic. There is no need to panic, however. You simply have to follow general sanitary habits, as you would during flu and cold season. After all, there are more than 300 million people living in America, and only three people here have contracted Ebola thus far. The odds are exceptionally good that you will not catch the Ebola virus.
For more information is available at Center for Disease Control (CDC) or go to http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola . Also following are some useful links to documents for convenience.
CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATION OF SUSPECTED EBOLA PATIENT:
SPECIMEN COLLECTION GUIDANCE FOR SUSPECTED PATIENTS:
COULD IT BE EBOLA?