Unless you live under a rock, you have surely seen the media headlines about the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that has hit West Africa. Almost 1400 cases have been reported so far, with about a 55% mortality rate (Over 700 deaths so far).
Let the fear mongering (and the panic) begin!
But before you set your hair on fire and run screaming to your bunker, there are some things you need to know about Ebola.
The first, and most important, is that Ebola is a bloodborne pathogen. It is NOT airborne. (Think colds, the flu, pneumonia.) So you cannot contract it by breathing air. Ebola is contracted through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva and semen. Other contaminants such as used medical supplies can also spread the virus. (Think HIV.)
Secondly, the virus cannot be transmitted until after the victim is sick and the symptoms have been exhibited. The virus is very aggressive and does not stay inactive for long. Symptoms begin to show after about 2 days to 2 weeks. Symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
The longest reported time until symptoms show has been 21 days. So unlike HIV, it won’t lie dormant for months or years, significantly reducing the chances of it being unknowingly spread.
Third, a major cause for the rapid spread in West Africa is due to the lack of proper sanitation, hygiene, and medical care in that area. Ebola’s symptoms are not unique, and many times are confused for other illnesses. Without adequate medical training or supplies, it is often misdiagnosed. That coupled with poor hygiene and sanitation is grounds for Ebola’s rapid spread in Africa.
However, in the US and other developed countries where blood tests are common and readily available, a virus like this could quickly be detected. And because it does not spread easily in developed countries, it could quickly be contained.
Hopefully your fears have subsided somewhat, but you are still asking “What sort of precautions should I be taking to avoid contracting this?” Well…there are a few steps you can do to ensure you don’t get it.
First, don’t go to West Africa. The CDC has issued travel warnings for the region.
Second, avoid potential bio-hazards like bodily fluids and contaminants such as dirty hypodermic needles. (In essence, the steps you use to avoid diseases such as HIV….keep doing those.)
Third, relax. If the end of the world event is going to be a pandemic, Ebola is NOT the virus that will do it. It is simply too difficult to adequately spread in developed countries to be a significant threat to the world.
Here are some resources of further information that may be of interest to you:
Zombie Apocalypse: The Prepper’s Guide to Pandemic Outbreak, Quarantine, and Zombie Fallout (Survival Family Basics – Preppers Survival Handbook Series)
Pandemic Influenza: Emergency Planning and Community Preparedness
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
Ebola : The Preppers Guide to Surviving the Killer Virus – Ebola
Emerging Viruses: AIDS And Ebola : Nature, Accident or Intentional?
Army Field Manual FM 21-10 (Field Hygiene and Sanitation)
List of novels about pandemics