October 15, 2014

Ebola: Panic! No, be Informed & Prepared. Here’s how.

prevent disease

Ebola is one of the most popular current events and feared subjects all over the world.

People in every village, town and city are talking about it.

In some places Ebola is a real threat—where people close by are contracting the disease. Others worry that Ebola may cross into their country at any time—causing an outbreak as seen in countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The WHO (The World Health Organization) has announced that Ebola could threaten the very survival of society and may lead to failed states.

The head of The WHO Margaret Chan acknowledged on Monday 13 October that Ebola panic is spreading.

“We are very well aware that fear of infection has spread around the world much faster than the virus.” ~ Margaret Chan

Chan cited World Bank figures—90 % of the economic costs of any outbreak arise from irrational and disorganized efforts of the public to avoid infection.

Margaret Chan says that the Ebola outbreak is the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.

Many people wish to know what they can do to protect themselves and their families—should they be faced with an Ebola epidemic close to home.

Hospitals and emergency services are taking action and all concerned can also prepare for a possible outbreak.

Hopefully, it will never come to that—if Ebola does strike close to home, we can have a little peace of mind if we have taken steps to educate and protect ourselves.

Whatever happens do not panic.

Panicking doesn’t help anyone.

In fact, most times panic makes things a whole heap worse.

If one person panics—it’s contagious—everyone around them seems to panic.

The most important thing do is stay calm and keep a clear head and we will be much better equipped to deal with the whole situation.

The following precautions are from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak be sure to take these precautions.

Practice careful hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and 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 (such as clothes, bedding, needles and medical equipment).

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 in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.

After returning, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola,

Healthcare workers exposed to people with Ebola should follow these steps.

Wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection.

Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures

Isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.

Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.

Notify health officials if you have had direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who has Ebola. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.

The above may seem extremely obvious even unnecessary at this stage, but the more informed we all are, the less chance there is of the disease spreading further.

Similar information on prevention and control (as below) can also be found on the Who’s website:

Prevention and control.

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions—case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization.

Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks.

Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

Lists are being compiled advising what to purchase to keep yourself and your home safe.

Another complication is that people will start to panic buy—preparing for an epidemic—prices will rise drastically and shortages may occur.

If there is any possibility that you may have contracted Ebola, or that someone close to you has, the most important thing at this stage is contact the emergency services and isolation.

Symptoms begin to show eight to ten days after contracting the virus. They include fever higher than 37°C or 98°F, muscle pain, severe headache, weakness, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting and unexplained hemorrhage.

Even if you hear of a confirmed or suspected case of Ebola onear you, remember it is spread through contact with body-fluids of an infected person.

The CDC claims that Ebola is not airborne. Some argue against this.

Protection/prevention in short.

Be aware of signs and symptoms.

Isolation if you’re in any doubt.

Immediately contact your healthcare team or emergency services if you have any concern.

If in an area of concern wash hands thoroughly with warm water or soap or alcohol sanitizers.

If you believe someone is infected, avoid all bodily contact and let the healthcare professionals handle the person.

If you suspect a person infected with Ebola has been in close contact, wear protective clothing before handling anything and then disinfect all clothing, bedding, fabrics and areas they have been near.

If you have any open wounds, keep them clean and treated.

Raw meat from illegal bushmeat including bats, chimpanzees and monkeys is where Ebola is believed to have originated. Avoid unnecessary contact with wild non-human primates, especially blood and feces.

If possible avoid any unnecessary travel to infected areas.

Ebola can also spread through unprotected sex—this should go without saying—use protection if you have any concern at all.

The possibility of a large-scale Ebola outbreak is minimal for developed countries as the healthcare system is very advanced and already on high alert to deal with any cases.

The more we know about, the less chance there is of it spreading.



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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: wikipedia

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