Is Ebola the New Plague?

As scary as Ebola it doesn’t seem to have the capacity to spread like traditional airborne disease like measles or tuberculosis.  Which can spread by simply breathing the same air of an infected person. The expert consensus is that Ebola doesn’t have the ability to infect a population like the “Black Death”.   In the in the 14th century, the “Black Death” killed almost 50% of Europe’s population.

Health Care Workers know how to fight it. For example chlorine kills the virus in seconds. And although the have been many missteps combating the disease it is not being ignored. As scary as Ebola is it has been around since 1976 when the first case was found in Zaire. In that case, the disease was spread by close personal contact and by use of contaminated needles and syringes in hospitals/clinics. This outbreak was the first recognition of the disease.

Through March the CDC report 13241 cases with 4950 deaths or  (37%) in multiple countries in West Africa. The number of patients is constantly evolving due to the ongoing investigation.

The Bottom line is that although Ebola is deadly and this the 2014 Ebola epidemic is largest in history in West Africa it is not highly contagious. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States, and one confirmed case has been reported in Spain.

The CDC states that when an infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread to others only through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)

Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (e.g., humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and 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.

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