The disease affects animals and humans. It comes into the human population through contact with the blood, secretions, meat and other body fluids of infected animals. It can also happen when animals with the disease (dead or alive) are handled by human beings. These animals include chimpanzee, gorillas, monkeys, fruit bats and antelopes.
Once it enters the human population, it then spreads from person to person through contact with the blood, secretions, and other body fluids including semen of the infected persons. Even poor handling of bodies of persons who died from the disease also help in the spread.
Health workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists etc ) can contract the disease if special care is not taken during treatment of the infected person.
Infected persons can infect others up to two months after the onset of the disease.
Ebola fever has no cure and no vaccine has been developed. Consequently prevention is key.
Finally, the best preventive measure is to be aware that fatal Ebola Fever is now in West Africa and to know how to avoid it.
1. Avoid the body fluids of infected persons.
The body fluids of infected person include saliva, blood, sweat, urine, semen, nasal discharge; these body fluids contain the Ebola virus. Contact of the fluid with our skin or covering layer of our mouth, nostrils, eyes, vagina etc can lead to infection. Consequently the body fluids of an infected person must be avoided at all cost.
2. Handle materials used by infected persons with caution
Beddings, clothes, handkerchiefs and any other materials used by the infected person must be decontaminated or burnt. They can only be handled with hand gloves.
3. Cook all your meat very thoroughly
Bush meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating. By bush meat we mean the meat of antelopes, porcupines, monkeys and bats. In the present circumstance, all meat including cow and pig meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating it. Also avoid handling of uncooked meat.
4. Avoid contact with persons infected with Ebola fever
Close contact with infected persons must be avoided as you can easily contract the disease. The reason for this is clear; being close to the infected person can bring you in contact with the body fluids or/and the contaminated materials. Take suspected relatives or friends to hospital for immediate isolation and notification of appropriate health authorities.
5. Avoid the dead body of an Ebola fever victim
The body of a dead Ebola victim is as infectious as the living person; therefore burial preparations should be left to experts. Do not go near the body even if the person is a close relative. The body should be decontaminated by experts and cremated.
6. Practice hand hygiene.
Avoid unnecessary handshakes, hugging and kissing on the cheeks; you never know who has the disease. Always wash your hands with soap and water after an outing, after a visit to a hospital/clinic, after handshake with someone you are not comfortable with or after using the toilet (1 or 2) or after touching uncooked food.
7. If a health worker, treat Ebola Patient with caution.
On individual basis, if you are a health worker, handle patients infected with Ebola virus with extreme precaution—use of gloves, mask, appropriate overalls, boots and goggles are essential. The body of the dead patient should be handled the same way.
8. If a farm worker or hunter, handle animals with caution.
If you are a farm worker, handle animals with gloves and appropriate protective clothing.
Contact with bush animals should be restricted especially without gloves even if you are a hunter.