Ebola: Your Questions Answered

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FOX 17’s Roger Susanin and Dr. Tim Jones, an epidemic expert with the state health department, answered some of your Facebook questions. Are are some of the most common:

WHEN IS EBOLA CONTAGIOUS?

Only when someone is showing symptoms, which can start with vague symptoms including a fever, flu-like body aches and abdominal pain, and then vomiting and diarrhea.

HOW DOES EBOLA SPREAD?

Through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed.

Ebola isn’t airborne. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said people don’t get exposed by sitting next to someone on the bus.

“This is not like flu. It’s not like measles, not like the common cold. It’s not as spreadable, it’s not as infectious as those conditions,” he added.

Ebola has been around since the 70s, and there has never been any evidence of it being airborne.

IS THERE A CURE?

There’s no vaccine or declared cure but there is treatment. In fact, two earlier American Ebola patients were able to completely recover, walking out of the hospital infection-free.

WHY DON’T WE BAN TRAVEL TO AFRICA?

Health officials overwhelming agree that banning travel to Africa would increase the risk of Ebola to the US. Just like when the world ignored AIDS/HIV emerging in Africa, ignoring the problem of Ebola will not make it go away. Only by the world health community uniting and fixing the problem at the source do doctors see a way to beat this horrible disease.

WHO GETS TESTED WHEN EBOLA IS SUSPECTED?

Hospitals with a suspected case call their health department or the CDC to go through a checklist to determine the person’s level of risk. Among the questions are whether the person reports a risky contact with a known Ebola patient, how sick they are and whether an alternative diagnosis is more likely. Most initially suspicious cases in the U.S. haven’t met the criteria for testing.

HOW IS IT CLEANED UP?

The CDC says bleach and other hospital disinfectants kill Ebola. Dried virus on surfaces survives only for several hours.

CAN EBOLA LIVE IN THE WATER SYSTEM?

Ebola isn’t a waterborne illness. It is transmitted only through direct contact with infected bodily fluids (e.g., blood, vomit, feces). The virus can only replicate within host cells. Therefore, it cannot survive long in water because it does not have its host €” either a human or an animal. So you don’t even need to rely on the water plant. Ebola can’t live in water on its own.

IS THIS A CONSPIRACY BY THE GOVERNMENT?

Ebola has been around since the 70s and the US government does not hold a monopoly on information about the disease. It is a world health problem being tackled by doctors, scientists, aid workers, churches, nonprofits and government everywhere, making it virtually impossible to keep things about it secret.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?

Ebola is in fact a very weak virus. It cannot live for long out in the open and it can be killed by water and soap or hand sanitizer. Health officials recommend you follow good hygiene to protect yourself.

The AP contributed to this report.

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