Ebola was first discovered in Africa in 1976 and has been active in several African countries since its discovery. There have been several outbreaks of the disease over the years, the most significant in 1995 in Congo (81% mortality rate) and again in 2000-2001 in Uganda (53% mortality rate). The current outbreak has reached several countries, and although it is still ongoing, has a mortality rate of only 52%.
The Ebola Virus is just that, a virus. It is survivable and infection is preventable. On the scale of contagiousness with other common viral infections, Ebola falls low on the list. The average number of people that one sick person can infect (Ro) is two compared to four with the SARS or HIV virus.
As with any virus, including influenza, good and thorough hygiene can help to prevent infection. Here are a few tips for preventing contraction of Ebola, the common cold and the flu:
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your face or other areas of the body with exposed bodily fluids
Avoid putting things in your mouth, including fingers, pens and eating utensils shared by others
Don’t drink after others
Wear proper protective equipment when handling the bodily fluids of other mammals.
Surviving Ebola depends largely on the person’s immune system and the quality of care they receive early on. Maintaining a healthy immune system is the number one self-treatment you can do.