DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG
On FOXdc, we discuss what concerns we should have about Ebola. The Ebola virus is here in the USA, and it is important to prevent it from becoming an epidemic. There have been outbreaks for more than 40 years due to this type of virus, but there has never been a transmitted case of Ebola on US soil until this September of 2014.
First of all, what is Ebola? It is a virus that invades many parts of the body, especially part of the immune system can make patients go into shock with low blood pressure, fever, bleeding, and malaise (i.e. feeling horrible like one does with the flu).
How is it transmitted? #1 is person to person: direct contact of broken skin or with mucous membranes (mouth, nose, and eyes). So if a person has the virus on his/her hand and touches the eye, nose, or mouth, that person can become infected with Ebola. The virus lives in blood, feces, vomit, urine, semen, and breast milk. It has been found in sweat, tears, and saliva. #2 is through contaminated needles, scalpels, syringes can transmit Ebola. #3 is a harder way to catch Ebola: via contaminated objects. For example vomit on the floor or blood on the table probably is still a threat after 24 hours. Ebola in the lab has been found up to 6 days on a surface, but we do not know if the virus is still infective. #4 aerosolized to the mucosal membrane. Transmission of Ebola this way is a very low risk. #5 in the US is extremely unlikely: eating food with Ebola virus is a mode of transmission ‚Ä¶ only mammals carry Ebola (ie monkeys, apes, humans, bats).
Symptoms: incubation period is 2 to 21 days, but on average 8 to12 days. A person is not contagious until symptoms start. Fever comes first, usually going up to 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit though we have seen on the news temps down in the 99 to 100 degree range were first symptoms. Flu like symptoms of fevers, chills, muscle aches, weakness, loss of appetite, feeling horrible, headache, and perhaps a sore throat that feels like there is a lump in the throat. Several days later, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea usually develops. Hemorrhaging usually does not occur until the latest part of the disease course: nose bleeds, gum bleeds, blood in stool, etc. Some people get a rash all over the body around day 5 of disease.
Prevention: Good hand washing hygiene is very important. Alcohol based hand sanitizers have been recommended. And as with preventing catching the cold or flu, avoidance of contact with the eyes, nose, mouth (basically the face) can reduce the risk of Ebola infection. EPA has a list of cleansers to kill Ebola contaminated objects. Of course, avoiding contact with a person with Ebola is strongly recommended.
For more information: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html
¬© Dr. John Hong 10/19/14