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Why Ebola is Not the Virus You Should be Concerned With

By KellyRose McAleer - October 22, 2014

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On March 22, Guinea confirmed the fever which killed over 50 people and was formerly unidentified is in fact Ebola. It wasn’t until October 12 that a Dallas nurse became the first person in the United States to contract the virus. Since then, one other nurse has become infected with the Ebola virus, resulting in schools in Dallas and Ohio closing over panic of the virus spreading.

Most of the hysteria surrounding Ebola is unwarranted. There is no outbreak in the US, and because Ebola is not spread through casual contact the CDC has said that the possibility of an outbreak occurring here is very low. However, it is still important to be informed and know how Ebola can and cannot be spread.

Ebola Facts

First, do not panic. The most important thing you can do is stay informed of the facts and avoid panic. The good news is, the Ebola virus has not mutated to become airborne and health professionals have said that is unlikely to happen. Because the disease isn’t airborne it will be easier to control, and you don’t have to quarantine yourself, avoid public transportation, or worry about buying a breathing mask. Ebola cannot be spread via water or food, and there is no evidence that it can be transmitted through insect bites. How it does spread is through very close contact with infected bodily fluids. The CDC believes a person becomes contagious after they begin exhibiting symptoms, so unless you have interacted with an infected patient’s saliva, blood, vomit, etc, you should be perfectly fine.

If you have traveled to Sierra Leone, Liberia, or Guinea, or had direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone who was infected with Ebola, you can call your doctor. Your doctor will determine whether your exposure level warrants any alarm, and they will consult with health authorities about what actions are needed. And although some people have been spotted sporting them in airports, there is no need to buy a hazmat suit. Most suits won’t be the same quality as medical professionals wear, and you would have to learn the specific procedures for taking it on and off. Unless you’re serving an infected patient, the hazmat suit is overkill.

Preventing Infection

Although the odds of contracting Ebola are small, it’s still smart to be aware of how to prevent infections from spreading. Older adults are very unlikely to contract Ebola, and are more likely to contract MRSA or the flu – but both can help be prevented in similar ways. What you can do is wash your hands. It’s basic, but according to the Center for Disease Control the Ebola virus can be washed away with soap and water, just like the flu. The detergent in the soap will break up the membranes of the bacteria, so regular soap is one of your best allies against sickness. Also, keep your social distance from anyone who may be infected. Although Ebola viruses left on an inanimate objects rapidly die, the CDC recommends avoiding an infected patient’s belongings just in case.

So far only two people in America have gotten ill with Ebola, and they were health workers in direct contact with an infected patient. If you are 65 or older, you are more likely to be one of the 30 million Americans who contract the flu, and both caneasily be prevented by the above steps like washing your hands and getting a flu shot, of course. Ebola is the scarier-sounding of the two, but seniors account for 90 percent of flu-related deaths and over half of hospitalizations in the US. Although Ebola is deadly without proper control, right now the main concern for an older American is the risk from more common infections. Turn off the television’s Ebola virus hysteria, and get yourself a flu shot.

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