Ebola virus has recently sent the medical and healthcare industry in frenzy. With no definite cure just yet, the average person can only hope for better information about how it is transmitted, at least we all can take safety precautions and avoid contacting it.
- Ebola is Transmitted through Direct Contact
Ebola virus, unlike respiratory virus which are more common to us, are transmitted through direct contact. Direct contact of bodily fluids from an Ebola-infected patient or mammal in the forms of sweat, mucus, semen, feces, and blood can transfer the virus to another person. Ebola virus is therefore transferable from patient to patient if an open wound is exposed to the virus or if the virus enters another person’s opening membranes like the eyes, nose and mouth. Another way that the virus is transmitted is through the use of Ebola-infected needles and syringes to another person.
- Ebola is Not Airborne and Waterborne
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its information on Ebola transmission and emphasized that Ebola virus is not airborne. This is not like the measles virus that can survive and float in the air for hours and infect other people. Since Ebola’s chosen vehicle are bodily fluids, such as the droplets from your cough or sneeze, it may be possible to infect someone with these droplets hitting someone in the mouth or the eye.
- Ebola is Transmittable through Sex
Once the patient has recovered from the virus, he is no longer considered a carrier. The CDC however warns that people who have recovered from Ebola can still carry the virus through the semen. It is recommended that recovered patients should abstain from sex for at least three months or use a condom to prevent possible transmission.
- Chances of Transmission is Higher Among Healthcare Workers and Family Members of Patients
Healthcare workers who attend to Ebola-stricken patients have higher chances of contracting the virus. World Health Organization reminds that healthcare workers take extra precaution in dealing with both confirmed and suspected Ebola patients. Since they are the people with the nearest contact to a patient’s bodily fluids, proper and impervius personal protective equipment, or PPE, should be worn. Facemask, gloves, and goggles, a protection suit, and booties should be worn.
The laboratory staff is also more exposed to the virus as they are in charge of examining the bodily fluids from patients. Aside from wearing the proper PPE, prompt sterilization, disinfection, and disposal of items used must be also be observed. Family members caring for Ebola patients are also in risk of transmission. Family members must also wear protective gears and stand at least six feet away from the patient. Routine disinfection of the patient’s things like bed sheets and utensils, hand washing and bathing are also advised by the health authorities.
With over 19 outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease for the past four decades, it is important that we know and are educated of how this virus is being transmitted. The virus has certainly become a cause of alarm what with more than 2000 recorded deaths, 4000 confirmed cases and new ones reported day after day. Understanding the modes of transmission only form part of the overall picture of understanding and preventing Ebola, but is also considered valuable in efforts of containing and controlling the outbreak.