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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ebola- preventing the virus spread with facts rather than emotional reactions

BBCNews published a helpful article about the Ebola virus. Rather than fuel public panic, the article provides important information to counter the hysterical response many media have created to this West Africa epidemic.  

Although the BBCNews information is not comforting, it's at least based on facts, rather than fearful hype.

Ebola outbreak: Six surprising numbers

1. To stop the Ebola spread, people in the field and remote areas need access to mobile telephones so real time data can be shared.  Information about Ebola is too often retrospective, but needs to be responded to much faster so that isolation and prevention measures can respond in real time. 5,060 cell telephones are needed
The medical teams now being sent to the affected countries need mobile phones to pass on vital information about how the disease is spreading, especially in remote areas.

2. Health care workers are particularly vulnerable to the Ebola virus because they are often exposed to the infectious  bodily fluids of those who have the disease. In fact, 1 in 50 health care workers who care for Ebola victims, unfortunately, develop the disease because of a breakdown in protective procedures. Ebola is transmitted through patients' body fluids, leaving health workers particularly vulnerable to the disease. Where medics have lacked adequate protection, their rate of infection has been higher. The suit must be worn by medical personnel to protect against infection. It includes a protective mask, goggles, apron, gloves and rubber boots. Figure from Medecins Sans Frontieres or Physicians without borders. (Unfortunately, protective the suits don't provide much opportunity for ventilation; therefore, they cause discomfort for the wearers. Nevertheless, the alternative is the risk of exposure.)

3.  Having sexual relations with survivors appears to spread the disease. Prevention of spread includes 90 days without sex for survivors of Ebola. The Ebola virus can remain present in semen for a long time. Experts say it is best for men who are recovering from the disease to avoid sex altogether - or make sure they use a condom - for 90 days. Figure from Peter Piot, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who discovered Ebola in 1976

4.  Every person who becomes ill with Ebola has the potential to infect up to 7 others. This is referred to as 1:7.  In Dallas Texas, at the hospital where Ebola patient Mr. Duncan died, the exposure infected 2 nurses so this ratio was diminished probably because protective equipment was used and anything exposed to the patient was likely destroyed.1:7 people infected by each Ebola sufferer in Liberia. 

The figure of 1.7 means that, on average, every 10 people infected with Ebola in Liberia will have passed the disease on to 17 others. This figure is known as a basic reproduction number. It is used to measure the rate at which an epidemic spreads through a susceptible population. The number fluctuates as scientists keep monitoring new cases.

By comparison, measles - a highly contagious disease - can have a reproduction number of between 12 and 17. Figure from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

5.  19,980 burial kits needed.

The bodies of Ebola victims remain infectious after death. Safe burials are key to checking the spread of the disease. Figure from UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) 

In summary, to stop Ebola from spreading, the grass roots work must include real time exchange of information about the occurrence of the virus. Most important, public health initiatives must support the integrity of the workers who are trying to stop this disease, at the place it where it infects and when it occurs.     

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1:08 AM  

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