Ebola Facts That Can Help Improve Pandemic Preparedness
By Guest Contributor Maggie Martin
Ebola is a deadly virus that originated in Africa and causes serious illness that often leads to death. Although it is a low threat for people living outside Africa, the virus is highly infectious and could spread to other parts of the world if not handled correctly. The latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa mainly affected Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia with over 11,000 deaths being reported by the WHO. This was the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus. One of the reasons why the Ebola virus had such a ravaging effect on these countries is due to the general lack of knowledge and pandemic preparedness.
Ebola is still a key focus since research has shown that the virus can stay in the body months after the symptoms have been treated. Even after the outbreak was contained, Ebola is still lurking and can infect others via bodily fluids.
Handing The Signs And Symptoms Of The Ebola Virus
Signs and symptoms of Ebola can occur anywhere between 2 to 21 days after exposure and recovery depends greatly on supportive clinical care and the individual’s immune system. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, muscle pain, severe headaches, weakness and fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Once these symptoms have been noted, it is advisable to get the individual quarantined as soon as possible to reduce exposure to other uninfected individuals.
Preventing Transmission To Uninfected Persons
Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids of an infected person coming in contact with the mucous membrane of an uninfected person. Blood, saliva, semen, vaginal fluids and mucous can cause the spread of the disease. Any care giver to the infected person should ensure that any fresh wounds are properly dressed before handling an infected person. They should also consider wearing a facemask to prevent coming into contact with aerosolized bodily fluids in case of coughing or sneezing.
Even after recovering from Ebola, infected individuals should still practice safe sex, even when giving oral sex. Objects like syringes, needles and razors that have been exposed to the blood of an infected person should be disposed and destroyed.
Risk Of Infection
Individuals who are at the highest risk of contracting Ebola are those who are direct care givers to infected persons. Caregivers should get adequate training on how to handle the infected person. They also need protective gear supplies such as gloves and facemasks to prevent direct handling of items that have been contaminated by bodily fluids.