To understand how to prevent ebola, one must first consider its history. The Ebola virus was discovered in West Africa and has been around for more than 35 years. According to an article written by Sydney Lupkin, an ABC News reporter, “The virus first arrived in the United States via U.S. missionaries flown here for treatment [during the] summer [of 2014].”
A Liberian tourist, by the name of Thomas Eric Duncan, also played a role in importing the virus when he took a flight from Liberia to Texas (he later died in Dallas). When news of the virus first reached the U.S. an uproar of fear and panic swept across the nation.
On Jan. 14, 2016, BBC News reported that since the first confirmed case on Mar. 23, 2014, 11,315 people have died from the disease. The reported deaths came from six countries which include Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the U.S. and Mali. Overall, “The total number of reported cases is about 28,637.”
Since the peak of the outbreak, the number of diagnosed cases has been reduced substantially, but this does not mean a future outbreak is not possible. Only by understanding the facts and symptoms of the Ebola virus can one truly know how to prevent Ebola.
The Ebola virus — which was first transmitted to humans through animals — belongs to a viral family known as Filoviridae. This places Ebola in a category of viruses that can cause profuse bleeding both internally and externally. These symptoms are often contracted simultaneously with high fevers.
Ebola differs from other viruses because it cannot be contracted through the air or by a simple touch of the skin. According to a medically reviewed article written by Rachel Nall, a registered nurse, an individual “must have direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who [already] has it.” The virus may be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, feces, breast milk, semen, urine and vomit.
The website for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most individuals will start experiencing Ebola symptoms within eight to ten days after their initial exposure.
That being said, symptoms can arise as early as two days, or take as long as three weeks. Often times the first symptom is extreme fatigue, followed by diarrhea, fever, headache, muscle pain, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising and vomiting. The virus can be transmitted via the eyes, nose, mouth, broken skin or sexual contact.
Before any symptoms arise, it is important to stay cognizant of how to prevent ebola. Individuals can prevent the virus by practicing good hygiene habits such as washing one’s hands with soap and water.
Be sure to wear durable and protective clothing when wildlife is present. Never come in direct contact with the body of someone who died from Ebola. Abstain from utilizing any items a person with Ebola has handled. Lastly, avoid coming in contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
Anyone who has come in contact with Ebola, given care to someone diagnosed with Ebola or touched an infected animal should seek immediate medical attention. The sooner the virus can be diagnosed, the better chance medical professionals have to fight it.
As of April 2015, The World Health Organization has reported it is testing two possible vaccines. But until medical experts create a reliable vaccine, it is paramount to always stay alert.
Although the saying is cliché, if we don’t learn from our past we are doomed to repeat it. By spreading the knowledge of how to prevent Ebola, we can ensure that human health and safety are top priorities.
– Terry J. Halloran