“Are you saying the Ebola infected Americans are not a threat to the U.S. public?”

Posted on August 2, 2014

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For the past 3 days, since the U.S. government agreed to help get two U.S workers who are battling Ebola infections back to the United States for treatment, several people have expressed their worries on U.S outbreaks and infections. At work and on social media, I have received questions from people wanting to know how the virus may affect their daily lives.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions:

Is Ebola now in the US? No, there have not been any cases of individuals contracting Ebola in the U.S. However, some US Aid Workers are Headed to Atlanta for Ebola Care.

Are you saying the infected Americans with Ebola who are being brought to the U.S. are not a threat to the public? The CDC has well-established protocols that have been put in place to ensure minimal risk of spread of infection, and to ensure that the American public is protected. Patients were evacuated in similar ways during SARS.

So since there is no treatment, what kind of care will they receive? When the patients arrive, the doctors can only administer “supportive therapy,” which means supporting the patient’s own immune system as it tries to battle the infection. This usually involves intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and shock. It could also include blood or platelet transfusions and oxygen therapy.

Has the government stopped flights coming in from West Africa? No, but no one entering the United States has been identified as carrying the disease. However, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said health and airline officials at customs stations and on board airliners are continuously tasked with identifying signs of illness in travelers, including now Ebola. Furthermore, the government on Thursday (July 31) warned Americans to stay away from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the West African countries recently hit by the largest outbreak of Ebola.

Can I be infected with the Ebola virus through sexual intercourse? Yes, Ebola is mainly spread via the bodily fluids of infected people. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

Can I be infected through air, or food? No, Ebola is not a respiratory disease so it cannot be transmitted through the air or via food/water

I hear there is a vaccine in the works, why can’t we use it? There are several vaccines currently being tested, but at the moment there are no licensed ones available for clinical use.

Should I be worried about my domestic animals? If there is no suspected outbreak in your farm, a simple routine cleaning and disinfection (with sodium hypochlorite or other detergents) should be effective in inactivating the virus. However, if outbreak is suspected, the premises should be quarantined immediately. Infected animals may unfortunately have to be culled and buried/incinerated very carefully to reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission.

Since initial symptoms are non-specific and I am a health care worker, how can I protect myself? It is important to apply standard precautions with ALL patients at ALL times, regardless of their diagnosis. These include basic hand and respiratory hygiene, safe injection practices, use of personal protective equipment etc.

What other questions do you have about the Ebola Virus? What are your thoughts about bringing the workers back to the U.S.? Read fast facts about the Ebola Virus HERE

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