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Ebola Prevention

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, including case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures (including vaccination) that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.

Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:

  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats, monkeys, apes, forest antelope or porcupines and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Outbreak containment measures, including safe and dignified burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola and monitoring their health for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, and the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.
  • Reducing the risk of possible sexual transmission, based on further analysis of ongoing research and consideration by the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response, WHO recommends that male survivors of EVD practice safer sex and hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen tests negative twice for Ebola virus. Contact with body fluids should be avoided and washing with soap and water is recommended. WHO does not recommend isolation of male or female convalescent patients whose blood has been tested negative for Ebola virus.
  • Avoid areas of known outbreaks. Before traveling to Africa, find out about current epidemics by checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
  • Avoid bush meat. In developing countries, avoid buying or eating the wild animals, including nonhuman primates, sold in local markets.

 

Controlling infection in health-care settings

Health-care workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EVD, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

In addition, after leaving an area affected by EVD, individuals should monitor their health for 21 days; if a person develops any symptoms, he or she should immediately seek medical care and inform the medical caregivers of his or her exposure to Ebola.

 

Handwashing

Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. The virus from blood and body fluids can enter the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth. In most cases, this happens by touching the face with contaminated hands.

Hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of dangerous germs, like Ebola virus. Correct hand hygiene lowers the number of germs on the hands and limits the opportunity for spread.

Proper hand hygiene methods are described below.

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hands are not visibly dirty. These products usually contain 60-95% ethanol or isopropanol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should not be used when hands are visibly soiled with dirt, blood, or other body fluids.
  • Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled with dirt, blood, or other body fluids and as an alternative to alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antimicrobial soaps are not proven to offer benefits over  with plain soap (not containing antimicrobial compounds) and water.
  • Use mild (0.05%) chlorine solution in settings where hand sanitizer and soap are not available. Repeated use of 0.05% chlorine solution may cause skin irritation.

 

 

 

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References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease

https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/prevention/handwashing.html

https://www.medicinenet.com/ebola_hemorrhagic_fever_ebola_hf/article.htm#is_it_possible_to_prevent_ebola_hemorrhagic_fever_is_there_an_ebola_vaccine

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ebola-virus/symptoms-causes/syc-20356258

 

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