Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola: Where to Get Data

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been keeping track of Ebola for some time. They are a good place to check out if you want to get facts on Ebola, learn the history, find out how it spreads etc. You can do that at this link. Learning about it will help you to be less scared of it. 

The best place to get data in the United States is at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Although it is a deadly disease, you have to keep in mind that so far, more people died of the flu in the United States this year than have died from Ebola all over the world this year. I realize people are concerned as it is more deadly than the flu, but I still think if you educate yourself about the known facts that you will not feel helpless in the face of this disease.

The WHO also has updates on Ebola that you can find on their site. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders has detailed information on Ebola. We do not fully understand this disease. There are many things still unknown about it, but I think that Doctors Without Borders is probably the most well acquainted with the disease. Their site is a bit overwhelming to look through, but still worthwhile if you want to know what is going on. Here is a link to one of their Ebola pages

Please realize if you are really concerned about this, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself on Ebola, understand how it spreads, and think about what you can do to protect yourself. This is true of all disease. If you did not read my prior blog on Ebola & Viruses, read it here.

The steps to staying healthy around any communicable disease are:

Learn about it.

Keep yourself healthy by healthy living methods.

Stay away from those who have it. 

Those who have it should be isolated from those who do not have it.

Isolate yourself from those around you if it is in your community.

If you might come in contact with those who have it, use barrier methods to protect yourself. 

What about going out into the community?
When coming home from a community situation such as work, shopping, events etc, immediately wash your hands and any other body parts or clothing that you are concerned may be contaminated. Always wash your hands after being around others during flu season or other contagious outbreaks. Do not touch your face with your hands unless they have been washed.

Stop shaking hands with people. If there is a communicable disease in  your community, do not go around shaking hands, and hugging people. Keep at a distance from them. If they are sick, stay away from them. Contact with your friends and family is good, and it is wonderful to meet new people and greet them, but not if you have a communicable disease going through your area.

Regarding Barrier Methods:
Ultimately, isolating yourself from a contagion is the best step to take and usually the first step to take.

Your skin is a protective barrier. It isolates your interior world from the outside world and protects you from disease. However, you have openings into the inner parts of your body. They are your  mouth, nose, eyes, urethra, vagina, anus. It is very common for people to touch their face with their hands. So, be more aware of keeping your hands away from your face. If you touch a surface that has a living virus on it with your fingers and then rub your eyes with your fingers, you just introduced that virus into one of your body openings. Additionally, small cuts you may not even notice can allow infectious disease inside. This is why gloves are important and washing hands is important. We interact with the world with out hands a lot.

You can wear clothing to protect you, including masks, goggles, gloves if you are caring for others who have a contagious disease or simply around them. However, realize those items can get contaminated and you have to be careful when you remove them. Standard practice for people who are in isolation units or working with hazardous chemicals is to double glove. This allows them to have a clean glove under their dirty glove to use when removing gear. They also tape up the outer glove to their suit sleeve so there is no skin showing. They also put on rubber boots over the pants of their hazardous materials suit. With Ebola they are also using bleach to wash down the suits before entering an Ebola care unit and after leaving the unit. So barriers can get fairly complicated. In this case they are using a barrier that has a coating on it that kills Ebola. 

So, what is ultimately the best barrier? Your own home. If Ebola really gets to your town, simply isolate yourself in your own home. To do that you should have water and food available as well as any supplements, herbs, drugs etc that you need. This is also helpful in case of a storm or other disaster that takes down the electric grid. It will bring our economy to its knees if everyone does this, so the government would not like it and would only institute it as a last measure. However, it would be the most effective way to make sure you are protected from it. The USA should have isolated our country from people flying in from infected areas but that too would effect the worlds economy and not all countries are willing to take this step. Some of the smart countries have.