There are a total of 7,492 Ebola cases worldwide, and 1.4 million cases could be seen in Liberia and Sierra Leone if the disease keeps spreading without effective methods to contain it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These reports have resulted in several airlines stopping flights to and from countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring and so the CDC has decided to address the issue.
“We understand that airlines and crews are concerned about Ebola, and we want to make sure we address those concerns,” said Phyllis Kozarsky, MD, Medical Consultant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. “The airline industry is an important CDC partner in protecting health security and in transporting humanitarian and public health aid to countries in need.”
“It’s important that airlines and their crew feel secure when flying to countries with Ebola, so we are working with international partners to address your concerns and provide you with the information and resources you need to protect yourselves,” Kozarsky added.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease in humans that is caused by the Ebola virus. The disease is highly infectious, but transmission can be prevented with proper infection prevention and control procedures.
Once a person is infected with the Ebola virus, symptoms can appear within two to 21 days of exposure, although from eight to 10 days is most common. Symptoms include fever, severe headaches, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and unexplained bruising or bleeding.
A person can only spread Ebola when they have symptoms and it is spread through direct contact with a sick person’s body fluids which include blood, saliva, semen, urine and vomit or direct contact with objects contaminated with infected body fluids. Direct contact is through broken skin or the eyes, nose or mouth.
In Africa, Ebola may also be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food such as monkeys).
Stopping the Spread
Before traveling, be sure to have your immunizations up to date, receive a flu shot, take anti-malaria pills and pack any medication that you normally take, the CDC advises.
“The CDC, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and other partners are working with the ministries of health in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to respond to the outbreak,” said Kozarsky. “The CDC is advising and training airport authorities and ministries of health on how to conduct exit screening in the affected areas to prevent the international spread of Ebola.”
While there are multiple preventative measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of Ebola, such as wearing waterproof, disposable gloves before touching an ill person or body fluids and wearing surgical masks and protective gowns or aprons, “hand washing is your most important defense against infection,” said Kozarsky.
Watch the video for more detailed information on how best to defend yourself and others from Ebola.