The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department is closely monitoring the Ebola virus and is working with partners at the national, state and local level. Although the risk of Ebola spreading in the United States is very low, the Health Department and its partners are taking actions to prevent this from happening. These actions include monitoring the health status of the Douglas County community and providing education.
Dr. Thomas Marcellino, health officer, said, “We understand that this virus may be scary. We are confident that health care providers in Douglas County are aware of the situation and have made plans in the event someone presents with symptoms of Ebola.”
Answers to frequently asked questions:
Q: What is Ebola?
A: Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. It is not a highly contagious disease. Symptoms include: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though 8-10 days is most common.
Q: How is Ebola transmitted?
A: Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or though exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
Q: Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
A: No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air.
Q: Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?
A: No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness. It is not a water-borne illness.
Q: Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
A: No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms or has died of the disease.
Q: Who is at risk?
A: Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.
Health care providers should be alert for and evaluate any patients suspected of having Ebola, especially those patients who have traveled to/from a country where an Ebola virus outbreak is occurring. Click here for a map.
Q: How can I protect myself from Ebola?
A: There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety and effectiveness.
To protect yourself:
• Do wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Do not touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat and semen) of people who are sick.
• Do not handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles or medical equipment.
• Do not touch the body of someone who has died of Ebola.
For more information about the Ebola virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola webpage.