Everybody’s talking about Ebola — Here’s what you should know

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UPDATE: Today, 9/15/14, the CDC released a warning to doctors and hospitals to get prepared for the possibility of Ebola. CDC claims they do not know of any other cases but, “…it is possible that individuals with EVD in West Africa may travel to the United States, exhibit signs and symptoms of EVD, and present to facilities.” The warning goes on to give more specific advice for identifying potential Ebola victims.
Now isn’t the time to panic, but it is the time to prepare. After all, it’s not just ebola but also the human enterovirus 68 making the rounds and our regular flu season is right around the corner. It makes sense to get prepared.
Related information:
Original blog article
Several countries in West Africa are in the throes of an epidemic of Ebola virus. Over 1,200 cases and almost 700 deaths in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia make it a candidate for the next great pandemic. The disease has decimated health care workers, with a number of doctors, nurses, missionaries, and others dying from the illness. Indeed, the Peace Corps is now pulling its workers from the affected countries as we speak.

 

The Ebola outbreak hit close to home when American, Patrick Sawyer, died in Lagos, Nigeria, en route to visit his family in Minnesota. Although he did not become Patient Zero in the U.S., other infected Americans were transferred to the CDC hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite all this, few people really know what Ebola virus is and how it does its damage, and they certainly don’t know what to do if it arrives in their neighborhood.

 

Ebola virus, a member of the Filoviridae virus family, was first reported in 1976, when 602 cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in 431 deaths. Ebola, named after the river where the first victims were identified, has several variants, a sign that it probably has the capacity to mutate.

 

What do we know?

Not much. How Ebola manages to first infect humans is poorly understood. Primates like monkeys and apes are possible agents of transmission (also called vectors), although birds, rodents, bats, pigs, and insects may be more likely to transmit the disease. The virus can even be transmitted to dogs, although they don’t seem to get sick.

 

Ebola appears to be transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids, even sweat. The practice of relatives and workers washing a body before burial may have helped spread the disease. A 2012 Canadian study suggested that the virus may also be transmitted in air droplets. Given the highly contagious nature of the disease, this would be big trouble if true, but hasn’t been proven.

 

Signs and symptoms of Ebola

 

What does Ebola virus do to its victims? Ebola causes a hemorrhagic fever with a 25-90% death rate, much higher than even the worst of the influenza pandemics of the past century. Compare this to a 2.5% death rate from the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and 0.1% from routine influenza outbreak.

 

Symptoms begin presenting about 2 weeks after exposure. Ebola patients develop the sudden onset of what first appears to be influenza: aches and pains, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever and chills, and malaise are commonly seen at this stage. Nausea is noted, often accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

 

Later on, the central nervous system becomes affected causing severe headaches, altered mental status, and seizures. Sometimes this results in the patient going into a coma. Evidence of disorders in blood clotting are seen in advanced stages of the disease.

 

Signs include:

 

• Spotty Rashes
• Bruises
• Broken blood vessels in the skin
• Collections of blood under the skin after injections
• Bloody vomit or sputum
• Spontaneous nosebleeds
• Bleeding from gums
• Blood in bowel movements

 

Once bleeding disorders occur, the likelihood of survival is slim. Although deaths from severe hemorrhage have occurred in women giving birth, multiple organ failure leading to shock is the usual cause of death.

 

Prevention

 

It’s thought that Ebola doesn’t spread until a victim develops symptoms. As the illness progresses, however, bodily fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding become very contagious. Poor hygiene and lack of proper medical supplies in underdeveloped countries, such as in West Africa impede the progress of medical authorities to tame the outbreak. The best they can do is isolate sick individuals as best they can and follow infectious disease precautions. This is something they are, apparently, not doing so well, because so many medical personnel are getting sick. When the doctors and nurses are dying, you know you have an illness about which to be truly concerned. Imagine if the disease becomes worldwide.

 

Treatment of Ebola

 

So how do we cure Ebola? We don’t. There is no known treatment, cure, or vaccine for Ebola at present. The doctors can only try to make the patient comfortable and hope they get better on their own. Therefore, I recommend stocking up on masks, gowns, eye protection, and gloves, and learn about how to have an effective survival sick room. We’ve got a video on our YouTube channel on the subject.

 

Why you should care

 

So what’s the big deal. Why should an epidemic in Africa matter to citizens of countries thousands of miles away? Well, this outbreak is not in the deepest areas of Africa, it’s on the west coast, a more populated and easily traveled area. News about the virus is disrupting the economies of the countries affected, and their governments haven’t been all that straightforward about giving reports, until just recently. As such, many natives of the countries affected are suspicious of health workers, sometimes blocking them from entering their villages with knives and machetes.

 

The country of Guinea, where the first cases occurred, is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminum. Therefore, exports from the country go to many of the world’s manufacturing plants. The advent of air travel can easily spread the disease throughout the world is just 24 hours. As a matter of fact, a Liberian official took sick on a flight to Nigeria, one of the most populous countries in Africa, and died soon after. With an incubation period of a couple of weeks, you might have Ebola and not even know it (until you’ve infected a lot of other people).

 

This may be a third-world disease now, but it wouldn’t take much to make it, indeed, the next great pandemic. We’ll keep you posted.

 

This article contributed by Dr. Joe Alton, also known as Dr. Bones. Visit Doom and Bloom to learn more about medical preparedness and check out Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy’s bestselling book, The Survival Medicine Handbook.
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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

25 thoughts on “Everybody’s talking about Ebola — Here’s what you should know”

  1. I’m pretty sure this post just did the opposite of what your page claims to do which is help moms worry less.

  2. Ok, so I am a newbie at preparing for things like this but agree that it is important to be ready for the “just incase”. What are the best masks and gloves for this? I was looking online and felt like there were many choices. Thanks!

  3. Where is the video he speaks about how to set up a safe room. The one you linked to is not it. And I would also like recommendations as to gloves, mask, eye protection, gowns, etc. And how did the people from Samaritans Purse get it if they are wearing all the protection?

  4. Pretty informal article, however, I’ve been following this since March, and supposedly Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms show up….

  5. Lesley A Strohm

    Let’s think about this. The numbers listed are for three populous countries over the course of 6+ months. I would hardly call this an epidemic or pandemic or even scary. The scary part, we don’t have a cure. If Ebola came to the US, there would likely be little impact as we don’t hand wash the bodies of our deceased relatives, have proper hygiene, and don’t have any superstitions that would cause us to ignore direction to utilize proper hygiene.

    Let’s look at it another way. The approximate populations of the infected countries are as follows: Guinea 12 million, Sierra Leone 6.2 million, and Liberia 4.3 million. That totals 22.5 million people with only approximately 1200 cases. That’s an infection rate of 0.000053%. This is in countries without proper care and a population often working against medical advice. The death rate of this is approximately 60%, so fatality is an even smaller percentage.

    The reasons you see doctors and other healthcare workers becoming ill from this include, but may not be limited to: prolonged, repeated exposure; difficulty of maintaining proper isolation due to poor facility and weather conditions (they recommend full hazmat suits, but the heat causes people wearing them to suffer heat stroke quickly, so people become sloppy); difficulty in receiving honest feedback from patients and family who fear medical intervention and the loss of their loved ones.

  6. Lesley A Strohm:
    Excellent, common-sense comment. Thanks for bringing it into a bit of perspective.
    This is to be taken seriously, and watched, but widespread panic isn’t necessary or wise.
    As you. Said, there. Are many factors to consider in comparisons between the two areas.

  7. Things to know about ebola, check out these titles from Jon Rappoport:

    Ebola: covert op in a hypnotized world

    What are US biowar researchers doing in the Ebola zone?

    Ebola 2: here come the “global pandemic” promoters

    Is it Ebola or is it psychological warfare?

  8. I hear to stalk up on nano silver. Its natural and it fights it I’m not sure on the correct spelling of it tho

  9. I am a nurse and I told my husband this weekend, one case in our state and I am out of health care! I cannot chance bringing that home to my family and the usual signs ans symptoms people with Ebola present with are the most common symptoms we see and treat on a daily basis. This is biblical and really scarey!

  10. Just because you wear all the Protection doesn’t mean you are 100% safe. People are not perfect, taking the protection off incorrectly or having one small mistake like a splash onto clothes or hair can then be transmitted to the person that was splashed or to another person they touch, if it is transmitted that way, they still aren’t 100% sure. It wouldn’t spread as quickly in the US but it could still spread if people get careless.

  11. As a former microbiologist, I’d put Ebola low on the totem poll in terms of a biological agent to be afraid of. Compared to other diseases it is much harder to transmit, and like someone already mentioned, we are a first world country that handles dead bodies much differently, and our protocol for sickness in hospitals is much more advanced that what you will find out in the field in these third world countries. I would focus on being able to shelter in place for an extended period of time for any illness be it Ebola, SARS, flu epidemic, etc., which as a survivalist is something we should already be doing anyway.

  12. Ebola runs rampant in uninformed and supersticious society’s. Any non airborne illness is pretty short lived in developed nations. You must come in contact with the blood, sweat, vomit, or stool of a person to catch ebola. Something we are pretty averse to in this country. So a sneeze/cough will not transmit it. It would actually be slower than the flu virus and our infrastucture would handle it pretty easily. It is such a fast acting virus that it would not spead very easily once identified as we in the developed worl would take necessary precautions. A big reason it spreads in Africa is they share food and have very poor plumbing and health care systems. Those are not an issue in the US.

  13. elizabeth hollingsworth

    stock up on natural antiviral meds–garlic, colloidal silver, oil of oregano, and i’m sure there are others that i’m not thinking of right now.

    i just had an *awful* stomach virus for days and finally remembered where my extra garlic caps were and by the time i had taken 3 caps twice that day, i was feeling better. fast stuff…..

  14. Okay let’s get real about this. First, if you or a family member have EVD you need to be in a hospital, not in a sick room in the basement. What are you thinking? Are you trying to get people infected thinking they can handle this on their own? That is the exact reason it’s so bad in Africa.

    1. In no way am I recommending that, silly! However, a true pandemic is going to wipe out enormous numbers of people, including hospital workers, pharmacists, lab technicians, doctors/nurses, and every type of support person imaginable. There will be NO hospital beds available. The best families will be able to do to isolate the sick person and give them whatever care they can. That’s worst case scenario. Thankfully we are a long way from that, if, indeed, it ever occurs, but the way Ebola is spreading in Africa gives us a chance to watch and learn.

  15. It is very interesting listening to everyones thoughts. I hope and pray ebola doesn’t reach the US. However I am concerned that we might not know as much as we think we do about it. Is it proven not to be air bourn? Are we really prapared for mass outbreak here? I’ve heard of ERs getting over run with just common flu paitients. If we end up with lock downs here, things could get ugly real fast. Shoot I can’t keep the common cold from passing from person to person in my home. That is with constant hand washing and disinfectant sprays and wipes etc. The thought of scares me non the less.

  16. Scarily enough, to those who said it couldn’t make it to the U.S., the first case on American soil was confirmed yesterday. I for one would rather be prepared.

  17. 10/1/2014 – It’s here folks, Dallas, Texas! Use some common sense. If you do nothing else, prepare as you would for any emergency… water, food, fuel, first aid/ medical supplies, sanitation, just like The Survival Mom says. That way you won’t HAVE to interact with the masses if panic hits! However, if you feel ill, and that little voice in your head says, “Maybe you should get this checked out”, please listen!

  18. Just wondering how people are thinking now that the first person here in America has died, and one of the nurses that was working with him is infected. And she may have unknowingly infected others. I don’t understand why people are underestimating this how easy it could become an epidemic here. If you can transmit it through sweat that you can from a sneeze or a cough, especially if you cough or sneeze on someone. Even though we have better hygiene here in America doesn’t mean people use it as they should, just stand in a public restroom and see how many people don’t wash there hands. I just hope if people feel any bit sick they won’t just write it off as the flu or something. Hopeful they go straight and get tested to make sure so it doesn’t become an epidemic. Just praying they get this under control every where and find a cure soon. GOD Bless stay safe:)

  19. Terrified. Yes, terrified. As suggested by my mother-in-law were are creating emergency packs. I came across this on Pinterest. Tho it adds fear, it also adds confidence. Learn, make yourself aware, and prepare. That’s all we can do.

  20. Pingback: The Survival Mom: Get Pandemic Ready

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