How To Protect Against Ebola

How To Protect Against Ebola

The Ebola virus is transmitted to people from wild animals.  Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus but infection has also been thought to be contracted through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead in the rainforest. It can then spread in the human population through human-to-human transmission from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and in some cases unexplained bruising or bleeding.  If you have recently returned from West Africa and develop a temperature of 38.0 C or higher along with any of these other symptoms you should call your GP or local hospital and tell them about your recent travels and your symptoms before you go to the surgery or hospital.

However, the risk of contracting this virus outside of West Africa are very slight.  Most people who become infected with Ebola are those who live with and care for people who have already got the disease and are showing symptoms.  The medical director of Public Health England said it was “unlikely but not impossible” that travellers infected in West Africa could develop symptoms on their return.. But he said it was sensible to be prepared, given the situation in West Africa.

A scientist who helped discover the deadly Ebola virus has said the current outbreak is ‘extremely unlikely’ to spread to Europe.  Professor Peter Piot, who was part of the team that discovered the virus in 1976, said that the likelihood the epidemic could spread in the UK was “very, very, very low”.   He said: “In Europe, the way I see it is that there is a good probability that someone will enter a country while incubating – when you have Ebola, frankly you can’t travel you are so sick – it’s the incubation time when people can enter the country. Here, because of our infection control and standards in hospitals, I think that the likelihood that would give rise to an epidemic is very, very, very low.”

He said that he would happily sit next to an infected person on a plane or train, adding: “By that I mean someone who is already infected but is not yet ill. Even in the early days when they have fever, that’s also not risky for others”.

Obviously it is always sensible to take precautions and to maintain good sanitary standards.  The Ebola virus cannot survive disinfectants, heat, direct sunlight, detergents and soaps and regular hand washing and use of sanitizers is always recommended to kill most germs.  Usually, viruses begin with a high temperature so it is advisable to have a quick and efficient thermometer available such as the TempIR dual thermometer which allows temperatures to be taken via the forehead or the ear canal. This type of temporal artery thermometry is more hygienic than the normal thermometers as there is no contact with the patient, so if an infection is present, there is less risk of passing them to other family members.

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