The U.S State department on Wednesday released some key facts about the Ebola virus that had killed over 600 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The disease which was previously unheard of in Nigeria gained national prominence last week with the death of a Liberian at a Lagos hospital.
Several nations are now on “red alert” to prevent the spread of the disease in their territories.
Here are few things people should know about the disease:
• The suspected reservoirs for Ebola are fruit bats.
• Transmission to humans is thought to originate from infected bats or primates that have become infected by bats.
• Undercooked infected bat and primate (bush) meat transmits the virus to humans.
• Human to human transmission is only achieved by physical contact with a person who is acutely and gravely ill from the Ebola virus or their body fluids.
• Transmission among humans is almost exclusively among caregiver family members or health care workers tending to the very ill.
• The virus is easily killed by contact with soap, bleach, sunlight, or drying. A washing machine will kill the virus in clothing saturated with infected body fluids.
• A person can incubate the virus without symptoms for 2-21 days, the average being 5-8 days before becoming ill. THEY ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS until they are acutely ill.
• Only when ill does the viral load express itself first in the blood and then in other bodily fluids (to include vomit, feces, urine, breast milk, semen and sweat).
• If you are walking around you are not infectious to others.
• There are documented cases from Kikwit, DRC of an Ebola outbreak in a village that had the custom of children never touching an ill adult. Children living for days in small one room huts with parents who died from Ebola did not become infected.
• You cannot contract Ebola by handling money, buying local bread or swimming in a pool.
• There is no medical reason to stop flights, close borders, restrict travel or close embassies, businesses or schools.
• As always practice good hand washing techniques, but you will not contract Ebola if you do not touch a dying person.