Update August 11, 2014: Codub continues to monitor the Ebola outbreak that is affecting parts of Western Africa. Countries with confirmed cases include Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Community spread of the virus has not been reported in Nigeria. For more information on the Ebola outbreak, please visit International SOS at this link.
The following information about the disease, including prevention measures, is excerpted from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control:
1. What is Ebola virus disease?
- Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness that affects humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.
2. How do people become infected with the virus?
- Infection occurs from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people or animals. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.
- Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.
- People are able to infect others as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. For this reason, infected patients receive close monitoring from medical professionals and receive laboratory tests to ensure the virus is no longer circulating in their systems before they return home.
3. Who is most at risk?
- During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are:
· health workers;
· family members or others in close contact with infected people;
· mourners who have direct contact with the bodies of the deceased as part of burial ceremonies; and
· hunters in the rain forest who come into contact with dead animals found lying in the forest.
4. What are typical signs and symptoms of infection?
- Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
- The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days. People become contagious once they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period.
- If employees become ill in the workplace with these symptoms they should notify their manager, leave the workplace and contact their health care provider. Either the employee or their manager should notify the Integrated Health Services contact that supports the country in which the illness occurred by email email@example.com
5. When should someone seek medical care?
- If a person has been in an area known to have Ebola virus disease or in contact with a person known or suspected to have Ebola and they begin to have symptoms, they should seek medical care immediately. Prompt medical care is essential to improving the rate of survival from the disease. It is also important to control spread of the disease and infection control procedures need to be started immediately.
6. What is the treatment?
- There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease. Some patients will recover with the appropriate medical care. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care
7. Can Ebola be prevented?
- There is no vaccine for Ebola virus disease but there are prevention measures you can take:
- Pay strict attention to hand hygiene.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
- Avoid hospitals – they may be treating patients with Ebola. (Call International SOS if you need medical treatment.)
- Avoid funerals. Do not directly touch dead bodies.
- Do not handle animals or bats.
- Do not eat bats or “bush meat” from gorillas, monkeys and other primates.
- If you choose to care for an ill person in your home, notify public health officials of your intentions so they can train you and provide appropriate gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as instructions as a reminder on how to properly care for the patient, protect yourself and your family, and properly dispose of the PPE after use.
- Avoid large gatherings.
8. Is it safe to travel during an outbreak? What is WHO’s travel advice?
- The risk of infection for travelers is very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of an infected patient. Travelers should avoid all contact with sick people.
- Anyone who has traveled to areas where cases were recently reported should be aware of the symptoms of infection and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.
- All travel to any African country must be approved.
9. Where can I learn more about Ebola virus disease?
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/
It is recommended that employees who live in or travel to affected countries monitor this email for updates
10. What is WHO’s reassuring news?
- The WHO have said that the Ebola situation in Nigeria looks reassuring. Of the 12 Ebola cases identified in Nigeria, at least one patient has made a full recovery.