News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Know the Ebola Facts

JCCHD | Wed, August 13, 2014 | [Healthcare][News]

Ebola is a disease caused by a tropical virus. It causes flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, general weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. As the disease progresses, the body experiences organ failure, dehydration, and bleeding. The current outbreak is concentrated in West Africa.

Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air, food, or water. It is not like the flu, which can be passed on through coughing and shaking hands. People become infected with Ebola when they come into contact with an infected person’s sweat, blood, vomit, or feces. This usually happens when family or medical workers treating a person infected with the virus come into close contact with these substances without wearing the right medical equipment (gloves, goggles, and masks), or because they use unclean medical instruments (needles and syringes). If proper precautions are taken, the transmission of the virus can be controlled quickly.

Health organizations are not overly concerned about the disease coming to the United States. Healthcare and airport screeners understand the disease and know how to prevent its spread. They can look for symptoms in people coming from an affected area and make sure they are healthy enough to enter the US. The US also has a high level of health care and can help treat anyone who is sick by providing appropriate isolation, necessary fluids, and monitoring health stats. Doctors in the US also use safety equipment and clean medical supplies to prevent the spread of disease. All of this reduces the likelihood that Ebola will be a health issue in the US.

The best lesson we can take from the news of this outbreak is that it is always a good idea to practice good hygiene and use good common sense, especially when traveling. Washing your hands frequently, avoiding people who are sick, and keeping people who have a fever home and away from others are all great examples of ways we can help to stop the spread of many diseases, from colds and the flu to more serious ones like Ebola.