You've heard the rumors... "Ebola is Airborne"... is it true?
As of the time of this article - according to both the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO): No.
You may have received emails, or read "News" claiming that "The CDC and CIDRAP have admitted that Ebola is now airborne." Sorry... we call this a Whole Buncha BULL PUCKY (well, we didn't actually say "Pucky", but it looks better in print this way.)
OK - we know many of our readers are concerned... and we are getting a huge volume of calls from customers wanting to purchase Ebola Prevention Products and Ebola Protection Kits, but please keep in mind that media will hype anything for ratings and circulation. Social Media will take a rumor or misread a statement, and turn it into "fact". The Ebola Epidemic is bad - let's not contribute to making it sound yet worse. Don't go viral with virus misinformation. At present, the threat of infection in the US is minuscule.
"Scare-Mongers" are touting vulnerability and trying to build up the threat to vast proportions. True, it is the largest Ebola Outbreak in History. True, over 4,000 have died in Africa. But put this into proportion - this is primarily three countries of a continent so large it could fit the land masses of the US, India, Japan, Mexico, China, Iberia and both Eastern and Western Europe within its borders!
But are you at risk? Highly improbable at present. Is Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever an Airborne Pathogen? No. Should you take precautions? Maybe... read on:
Image courtesy of the Economist: https://www.facebook.com/TheEconomist?fref=photo
The CDC (as of Today) states unequivocally:
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water
The Ebola virus is transmitted among humans through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids, the most infectious being blood, faeces and vomit.
The Ebola virus has also been detected in breast milk, urine and semen. In a convalescent male, the virus can persist in semen for at least 70 days; one study suggests persistence for more than 90 days.
Saliva and tears may also carry some risk. However, the studies implicating these additional bodily fluids were extremely limited in sample size and the science is inconclusive. In studies of saliva, the virus was found most frequently in patients at a severe stage of illness. The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat.
The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects. The risk of transmission from these surfaces is low and can be reduced even further by appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Not an airborne virus
Ebola virus disease is not an airborne infection. Airborne spread among humans implies inhalation of an infectious dose of virus from a suspended cloud of small dried droplets.
This mode of transmission has not been observed during extensive studies of the Ebola virus over several decades.
Common sense and observation tell us that spread of the virus via coughing or sneezing is rare, if it happens at all. Epidemiological data emerging from the outbreak are not consistent with the pattern of spread seen with airborne viruses, like those that cause measles and chickenpox, or the airborne bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.
This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.
WHO is not aware of any studies that actually document this mode of transmission. On the contrary, good quality studies from previous Ebola outbreaks show that all cases were infected by direct close contact with symptomatic patients.
No evidence that viral diseases change their mode of transmission
Moreover, scientists are unaware of any virus that has dramatically changed its mode of transmission. For example, the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which has caused sporadic human cases since 1997, is now endemic in chickens and ducks in large parts of Asia.
That virus has probably circulated through many billions of birds for at least two decades. Its mode of transmission remains basically unchanged.
Speculation that Ebola virus disease might mutate into a form that could easily spread among humans through the air is just that: speculation, unsubstantiated by any evidence.
This kind of speculation is unfounded but understandable as health officials race to catch up with this fast-moving and rapidly evolving outbreak.
To stop this outbreak, more needs to be done to implement – on a much larger scale – well-known protective and preventive measures. Abundant evidence has documented their effectiveness.
What are the protective measures recommended by CDC and WHO to avoid the spread of Ebola HF, and more importantly to each of you, to avoid contracting this deadly disease?
Should you take precautions? Maybe.
As noted, risk of infection in the US is infinitesimal right now, however... if you may come into contact with an infected person, or enter an area where infection has been present... then be smart. Another consideration is that due to "fear-mongering" as noted above, supplies are likely to run low. We saw this with Swine Flu and Avian Flu Pandemics.. panic set it and gear ran out. People hoarded. If you are concerned that the Ebola HF epidemic may escalate or contagion may spread in your area, then you may want to get some Ebola Protective Supplies now while they are available... most these items have long or indefinite shelf lives, and can always be put to use for other purposes later if unused for the current concern.
Precautionary Measures for Ebola:
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected animals
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
Some Basic Precautions:
- Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection around anyone infected, or even suspected of infection with Ebola Virus.
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.
- Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures.
- Isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.
- Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.
- Notify health officials if you have had direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth
During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves and eye protection.
Dedicated medical equipment (preferable disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing patient care. Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.
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