If you haven’t been reading up on the Ebola outbreak happening in Africa, you should know that this is the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Some quick facts before we begin:
- Ebola is a virus that is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
- The old strain and new strain of Ebola have between a 60-90% fatality rate.
- The incubation period (time period until you have symptoms) is 2-21 days.
- There is no treatment for the disease other than IV fluids and keeping the patient comfortable.
- While most major media says it is transmitted via direct contact, there are cases where Ebola transmission has occurred via aerosolized droplets in the air. Essentially, it can be airborne.
- The national guard in all 50 states has been outfitted with Ebola testing kits.
- Most importantly, this outbreak of Ebola IS NOT CONTAINED. It is currently in 4 countries, and infected individuals have been on airplanes that traveled from Liberia to Nigeria. Who knows where else infected individuals have traveled.
The Ebola outbreak per the WHO alert system is now in stage 5 and quickly leading to a global pandemic.
At this current stage and location, readers outside of South Africa should be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease as mentioned above. Don’t worry, you don’t need to break out the gas masks! Maintain general hygiene, have a supply of household disinfectants and hand sanitizers. I must stress that you should be vigilant with your hygiene practices. Below is an experiment I conducted showing bacteria on the hand after handling raw chicken vs. handling raw chicken followed by 10 second hand washing. As you can tell, you need to wash thoroughly! Also, be mindful of touching your face with your hands and keep all open wounds closed with adequate bandages.
Localized Incidents (150 mile radius)
If you find news that a confirmed a patient in your state or region has contracted Ebola, it’s time to step up precautions. The following measures may be prudent in addition to the general hygiene mentioned above:
- Stay home from work for a couple of days and monitor the news. See if continued outbreaks are occurring and where.
- Stay away from largely populated areas.
- Stay away from eating fast food or at restaurants
- Cook “open” groceries from the store thoroughly or avoid them until you understand the local situation better. This includes items such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Remove other groceries items from their primary packaging and only retain secondary packaging (e.g. – removal the cereal box and keep the plastic bag inside.
- If you’re really concerned and do not mind getting stares from other people, viral masks are an option. We’ve seen this occur in Japan as shown below:
Local Full Scale Outbreak
If your local area has reached this point, odds are you will see a very large state and/or federal response. If this worst case scenario were to occur, here are some tips in addition to the top two categories:
- Try to get out of the immediate area (if you can). You should have your bug out bag and applicable items needed. It would be ideal to travel at least 200+ miles away from ground zero.
- If you cannot get out of the immediate area, stay indoors and away from public areas.
- If there are no restrictions on movement out of your home and you do need to leave, have adequate face mask protection and nitrile gloves for disposal.
- DISINFECT all clothes if you leave the home, and frequently disinfect your home. A key point to remember about disinfection is that it is not simply spraying a surface with bleach and wiping up quickly. TRUE DISINFECTION requires you to have the surface wet for a contact time duration stated on the bottle label. Hospitals have specific protocols for the disinfection of norovirus due to high transmission of this disease. Follow this link for disinfection concentrations and contact times of bleach used in hospitals. Disinfection following these protocols will be similarly suitable for the Ebola virus.
Be vigilant and keep updated on the progress of this outbreak!