How Prevention Is Key to Stopping Ebola - dummies

How Prevention Is Key to Stopping Ebola

By Edward K. Chapnick

Preventing the spread of Ebola is remarkably simple and similar to any other virus prevention, so long as you’re not in a hot zone in West Africa. But even if you’re in a hot zone, some detailed protocols and safety gear and equipment can protect you.

Everything goes back to these prevention steps:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.

  • Don’t handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.

  • Don’t touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.

  • Don’t touch bats and nonhuman primates (apes and monkeys) or their blood and fluids, and don’t touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.

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

  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

The good news: Many of these prevention methods also work against other more common viruses, such as the flu and colds.

Beyond making sure people take care of themselves on an individual level, there are special considerations for you if you’re a healthcare worker out in the field. Additionally, citizens of all countries should take it upon themselves to make sure their nation and the global community is as healthy as possible.

What to do if you’re a healthcare worker

Being a healthcare worker in an affected area means that your life (and others’) depends on how well you adhere to personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols, environmental cleaning protocols, and safe handling and interaction protocols when in situations like a funeral. But this information about protection is just the tip of the iceberg.

What society can do

As a whole, the first thing society can do is not panic. People in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe aren’t in danger. You can take a deep breath and stop feeding into unnecessary hype. From there, you can:

  • Continue to educate yourself by consuming news through reputable sources, such as the WHO website), the CDC website, and the National Institutes of Health website.

  • Maintain good regular hygiene, paying special attention to washing your hands with soap and warm water.

  • Support efforts and funding to expand services in West Africa. If Ebola is dealt with there, it won’t find its way here.

  • Vote for representatives that back sound public health policies.

  • Get your flu shot. Flu season is here, and you don’t need to crowd the hospitals with a bunch of people who have symptoms that also look like Ebola. You don’t need to freak out (including yourself and your loved ones). Plus, keep hospital space open for those who really need it.

  • If someone you know thinks that he has Ebola-like symptoms, you can help by separating him in a room and calling the health department for further instruction.