Ebola Outbreak: Some Tips and Precautions to Keep It At Bay

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The current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has been frightening for most. So far, the current death toll is at 660 and another 1,093 people are infected according to the World Health Organization. Because of its extent, health experts believe that this is the biggest Ebola outbreak that has happened since its discovery in 1976.

Now news of two American health care workers infected with the Ebola virus have stirred up speculations of the virus spreading and even landing in the United States. Dr. Kent Brantley and volunteer Nancy Writebol both tested positive for the disease while working at the Case Management Center in Monrovi.

It is theoretically possible for the Ebola virus to infect people outside West Africa. All it takes is for people infected with the virus to get on a plane and travel outside the region. However, experts say that it is extremely unlikely for the virus to cause an outbreak in the United States or other developed countries because there are systems in place for containing such deadly infections.

And even if an infected person arrives at the airport showing symptoms, doctors would be quick to suspect that that person is infected with Ebola based on the travel history. Ebola also spreads through direct contact with an infected person's blood or other bodily fluids. So sitting in a room or an aeroplane with an infected person is not harmful at all.

Nevertheless, prevention is always better than cure. And in this case, it would certainly help to have good preventive measures in place to retard the spread of this severe viral disease as no drug or vaccine exists that can cure or prevent it.

Keep the following pointers in mind to help prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

  • Avoid traveling to areas with known outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Check for any current epidemics through the news or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

  • Practice basic hand hygiene. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water. When water is not available, use hand rubs with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Do not consume bush meat.

  • Avoid contact with infected people. The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with an infected person's blood, secretions, organs and other bodily fluids, according to the WHO.

  • Observe infection control procedures, particularly for healthcare workers. Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, long sleeved gowns, masks and eye shields.

  • Keep infected people isolated from other people.

  • Carefully disinfect or dispose needles and other instruments. Do not reuse injection needles and syringes.

  • Do not handle remains of Ebola victims. Bodies of people who died from Ebola are still contagious. Only trained people with appropriate safety equipment should handle their remains.

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