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How to Protect Yourself from the Ebola Virus

Updated on November 24, 2014

Full Body Protection from Bodily Fluids of Ebola Virus

Photo by European Commission DG ECHO
Photo by European Commission DG ECHO | Source

Protect Yourself from the Ebola Virus

Ebola is believed to spread through contact with the bodily fluids, or blood, of an infected person. Only about 30 percent of the people who catch the virus will survive it. There is currently no cure for the virus. Therefore, we all need to take this virus seriously. Learn how to protect yourself and your family if or when the deadly virus spreads to your region. This article contains valuable information that is backed by research.

If you believe that someone is infected with the Ebola virus, avoid contact with them. Do not shake people's hands who might be infected. Wear full body protective gear that covers you from head to toe. Protective gear should include a face mask, hair cap, protective glasses, an isolation gown, gloves, and shoe covers. Wash your hands frequently and sanitize with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Do not touch anything that might have come in contact with an infected person. This could include their bed linens, clothing, furniture, pets, dishes; quite literally anything they may have come in contact with! Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates. Do not eat the raw meat of these animals.

Ebola Fact Sheet

Photo by SouthernBreeze
Photo by SouthernBreeze | Source

Do Not Touch a Person who has Died from Ebola

Never come in contact with the body of a person who has died from Ebola. One reason that the virus is spreading so quickly in Africa is because of the people's burial rituals where they wash the body and lay their hands on the departed.

These burial customs have contributed to the spread of Ebola in Africa. According to PBS Newshour, the World Health Organization is working to come up with safer burial practices which still take into account the local customers.

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Avoid Hospitals Caring for Infected Ebola Patients

Hospitals which are caring for Ebola patients should be avoided. Find the next closest hospital to receive care of non-ebola illnesses. To find out where an available hospital is located, contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate.

However, if you become infected with Ebola seek medical assistance immediately. Isolate yourself from other people, and do not travel, until you receive medical aide from a doctor. Symptoms to look for are a temperature of 101.5F/38.6C, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bruising, or bleeding.

Symptoms of Ebola Virus

Photo by Tony Cairns
Photo by Tony Cairns | Source

Disinfect Anything that an Infected Person has Touched

Likely, if someone you know has been diagnose with Ebola, the CDC will send a decontamination team which will disinfect their dwelling. However, in a larger outbreak they may not be able to send a team to everyone's house or apartment. Therefore, you may need to disinfect the dwelling yourself.

Disinfect the bed sheets, towels, and mattress used by an infected person, along with anything else that they may have come in contact with. Isolate any pets which may have contracted the virus. Contact officials immediately about having these pets removed from the home to a treatment center. According to the Public Health Agency, the Ebola virus is susceptible to heat, alcohol-based products, household bleach, and bleach powder such as Comet.

To clean blood or bodily fluids, the World Health Organization recommends "flooding the area with a 1:10 dilution of 5.25% household bleach for 10 minutes for 10 minutes for surfaces that can tolerate stronger bleach solutions (e.g., cement, metal)." Careful cleaning of stains is recommended for surfaces that are corrosive or that may discolour with a 1:100 dilution of 5.25% household bleach.

Note: Nurses who are caring for Ebola patients are taking showers, with a bleach solution, right after each interaction with the patient. It is important to disinfect as quickly as possible.

Limit your Travels

If you live close to an area where the Ebola virus has spread, limit your travels and stay isolated at home as much as possible.

For my family, this means that my husband will go to work and back, without making any other unnecessary stops. We have taken our children out of their regular sports and dance activities. I am keeping them at home without making any ventures out unless it's to the grocery store. We're avoiding any nonessential contact with others until the outbreak in the Dallas area is under control.

Keep your flights to a minimum during this time. Check the Travelers' Health Ebola web page for current travel notices and other information that the CDC has issued for travelers.

Wash Yourself with Alcohol or Household Bleach

European Commission DG ECHO
European Commission DG ECHO | Source

Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment

The CDC has published a helpful guide which shows, with detailed pictures, the appropriate sequence to put your personal protective equipment on. It is important that you follow these instructions carefully. To view the CDC PDF, CLICK HERE.

Protecting your Face

Protect your face from bodily fluids by wearing a face mask, protective gloves, and a hair cap.

Choose a pair of protective goggles which comfortably fit over your glasses. If you purchase a full face respirator, below, the use of protective goggles may not be necessary. However, these are useful to keep on hand when the respirator is not being used.

A bouffant cap keeps your hair and scalp from being exposed to bodily fluids. Look for a hair cap that has a liquid repellent.

Antiviral face masks use three different ingredients to inactivate flu viruses, including: citric acid, zinc, and copper. In addition to a face mask, some may go a step further and use a respirator which is recommended by the Public Health Agency. Read more about why you might need a respirator, in the future, to protect yourself from the Ebola virus, below.

Full Body Protective Kit - Click the Link Below this Picture

Amazon
Amazon | Source

Face Mask or Full Face Respirator?

Today, the Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, or vomit. However, according to CNN Health "some of the nation's top infectious disease experts worry that this deadly virus could mutate and be transmitted just by a cough or a sneeze".

There is no other known virus that has dramatically changed its mode of transmission. Ebola could mutate into an airborne disease. Every time it passes from person to person it makes copies of itself and makes one or two mutations.

If the disease becomes more widespread, scientists say that the threat of mutation increases. In 1989, there was an Ebola Reston outbreak among monkeys. The monkeys transmitted the virus to each other by breathing. In 2012, Ebola Zaire, which is involved in the current outbreak, was shown to pass from pigs to monkeys through the air.

Researchers have detected over 300 genetic changes in the disease since the outbreak, in just three weeks. Even without the virus being airborne, it has more than overwhelmed efforts to stop it from spreading. There have already been over 7,000 cases of Ebola and over 4,000 deaths.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, stated (about the Ebola virus becoming airborne), "I can't imagine anything in my career -- and this includes HIV -- that would be more devastating to the world than a respiratory transmissible Ebola virus."

In the near future, full face respirators may be essential for protecting yourself against the Ebola virus.

Medical Tape

Medical tape can be used to secure openings which may be found in your protective gear. Make sure that you purchase medical tape which is fluid resistant.

According to Boston Health, the Dallas Presbyterian Medical Center's nurses were asked to use medical tape for this purpose.

I believe also reading that some nurses used the tape to cover any exposed areas of skin, such as their neck, to protect themselves from the Ebola virus.

Protecting your Body

Protect your entire body from bodily fluids by wearing an isolation gown, gloves, and shoe covers.

An isolation gown should be fluid resistant, with elastic cuffs that fit over gloves, and full length to provide maximum coverage. The front of your gown should be solid with no openings or closures that would otherwise allow exposure to occur.

Latex free gloves are are usable by most people who are allergic to latex. Make sure your gloves are the right size, thick, easy to put on, and will not tear easily.

Shoe covers protect your shoes to limit the amount of exposure to bodily fluids to your shoes. While the package may say that you can use these more than once, obviously this would not be wise! Dispose of the shoe covers after each use when exposed to someone who potentially has the virus.

Ebola Virus - Protect Yourself

Photo by Tony Cairns
Photo by Tony Cairns | Source

Where to Buy Fluid Resistant Protective Gear?

The best place to buy fluid resistant protective gear is online, while supplies last. Obviously if there is an outbreak it will be increasingly difficult to obtain fluid resistant protective gear as the demand for these products will increase.

Search the following places:

Ebola Virus

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    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 2 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Most informative and useful! Of course this was very well researched also! Great job!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 3 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I can't imagine how worried you must be for your family Melinda with this deadly virus so close..I think any one flying out of West Africa, aid worker or not should be held in quarantine for at least seven days before allowed to board any flight out of the country..it is a disaster as it stands presently causing extreme angst for those close to the threat..thanks for this clear, informative necessary info..my thoughts are with you and your family..

      Cheers

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Awesome! And We the People Speak!

    • Melinda Longoria profile image
      Author

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 3 years ago from Garland, Texas

      #STOPEBOLASTRIKE - NATIONAL STRIKE TO FORCE OBAMA TO BLOCK WEST AFRICAN FLIGHTS. I just read about this strike. They are asking non-essential workers to strike Monday through Wednesday until Obama stops flights from Africa.

      The government, by refusing to block flights or tighten border security, is aiding and abetting the spread of Ebola. They are failing to implement measures which have proven to be successful in other countries.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Melinda, I don't blame you. I'd be scared, too! I don't even know if we should fly our teams over there and expose them as well. Let the medical professionals in West Africa treat those who have come down with the virus. What the hell is this? Germ warfare?

    • Melinda Longoria profile image
      Author

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 3 years ago from Garland, Texas

      Bravewarrior, you are exactly right! Why can't they send a medical team to treat people in the danger zone? Don't bring the virus to our country! I am now 5 minutes away from Rockwall where they are monitoring 5 people.

      There are now over 800 flight passengers being contacted who have been exposed. Restrictions have been placed on 75 health workers in Dallas, 15 minutes from my home. I worry about my children. My youngest is four months old. This scares me!

      Why won't the government put a ban on flights coming from West Africa? That's just ridiculous! Obviously there are gaps in the system. Our President wants to keep the same "protocols".

      If something isn't working, why continue doing it? That's the definition of crazy. I personally don't care about politics; but seeing the continuous errors, and apologies, I don't have any trust in our government's ability to handle this crisis.

      Only one infected person caused over 800+ people to be exposed to the virus. This is a domino effect. It is irresponsible the way the Ebola situation is being handled.

      Worried for my kids future.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      This is a scary virus, Melinda. So far, I don't think any cases have been reported in Florida. What scares me, is the people that are being flown into American hospitals for treatment. Why can't they be treated where they contracted it?