While there’s been a lot of ‘sex, lies, and videotape’ about the highly contagious and fatal disease known as Ebola, not much accurate advice has been offered to folks at home on how to avoid it. So I’m going to switch hats for this column and offer some thoughts from old, E.R. trauma nurse.
Supposedly, the disease made its way to our country via only one “Patient Zero.” But considering the history of disinformation the CDC is known for, most notably AIDS, it’s tough to take them seriously. The CDC’s early blasé attitude and misdirection contributed to the spreading and infecting of thousands of innocent people who were recipients of tainted blood products or who worked in healthcare; all because the CDC treated AIDS as a social issue instead of a deadly killer. Sound familiar?
Consequently, whenever the CDC issues statements of reassurance about a plague with absolutely no cure, it’s wise to start looking for the deception behind their smoke and mirrors.
Here are a few facts:
1) Ebola has a 70% mortality rate. There is no known cure. The only treatment is to combat the symptoms, which include massive hemorrhaging and organ failure.
2) (Never mentioned by the CDC) Any hemophiliac or anyone who is currently on any type of blood thinning medicine, i.e., Coumadin (Warfarin), Heparin, Aspirin, etc. needs to be extra careful because their blood clotting time is slower than normal. Since Ebola causes massive internal bleeding, they are naturally at a higher risk of mortality if exposed because they have the potential to bleed out much faster.
3) Ebola can spread by contact, droplet, heavy airborne particles, and body fluids. Since coughing and nasal discharge contain particulate matter, anyone who gets hit with an infected microbe has the potential to be infected.
4) We know that at least two nurses working in close proximity to the patient have contracted the disease, as well as one of the nurse’s significant other. It’s therefore not a stretch to assume that hundreds of other people probably came in contact with the disease, as well.
5) Although the DHS just outlined new screening requirements for passengers arriving from Ebola-land in the U.S., there are still no restrictions on travel. Even better, since there are no direct flights from Ebola-land to the U.S. that means those infected passengers will have a nice layover and change planes – before arriving on our shores. Testing passengers after they arrive is pathetically absurd (and expensive – especially if they’re infected).
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
First and foremost, you can limit your exposure. If you don’t have to travel on public transportation, don’t. That goes for any destination, foreign or domestic.
As one who travels a lot, I know this is a tough one, especially with holidays approaching. But remember, it’s not just about the potential for contamination on a flight – it’s also about contamination in busy terminals, shuttles busses to and from parking, restrooms, restaurants, and magazine kiosks, etc.
Granted, staying away from arenas of public transportation is pretty tough if you happen to work in the transportation business, but hopefully the airlines, cruise ship owners, rental car agencies, and hotels, etc. are taking the risk seriously and cleaning more thoroughly.
Your second line of defense is your skin. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and is your major protection against the contagious diseases. Since it protects you, do what you can to protect it. Obviously, avoiding needles, punctures, and cuts is helpful because any open wound can allow bacteria to enter. If you have any open wound and plan to be in crowds or around strangers, securely cover the area for the duration of your exposure.
Learn how to wash your hands.
I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’d venture a guess that 95% of the American population is absolutely clueless about effective hand washing. As anyone who’s ever learned to scrub for surgery will tell you, each finger has five sides; palm, top, right and left sides, and the tips. When you rub your hands together for a few brief seconds with soap or disinfectant, you’re likely only touching 1/5th of the surface and the result is ineffective.
Also, most folks don’t realize that what rids the hands of germs is not the soap or antibacterial solution. It’s the friction. Read that again.
It’s not the soap that gets rid of germs – it’s the friction (and/or a combination of the two). So when you apply soap, vigorously rub back and forth, in between the fingers, one on top of the other, then reverse. Finish by scrubbing your nails into the palm of one hand and finish with the opposite. If you think you’ve been exposed to anything, a minimum amount of scrubbing time is at least two full minutes and four or five is even better.
After you’ve washed your hands in a public restroom, how you exit is just as critical as the washing. Pull an abundant amount of paper towels out and hold them under your arm before you wash your hands. Then dry your hands thoroughly, fold the paper towels in half and use the thickened amount to shut off the faucet and open the door. Avoid touching the door handle with your hand, as doing so negates the cleansing you’ve just done. Wait until you are outside and then discard the towels.
If the restroom is only equipped with air-drying, you can accomplish the same thing by pulling a wad of toilet paper out before you wash and dry your hands and then use the TP to open the door, etc.
Another point to consider is that whenever you are in a high traffic, public place, you can limit your exposure to many microbes by simply not touching obvious things and by carrying wipes in your pocket or purse.
For instance, stop and think when you enter a shopping mall or grocery store. If the door is connected to an automatic opener for ‘Handicapped’ customers, use your elbow (it’s tough to get it into your mouth) to press the box and wait for the door to open. If automation is not available, use a wipe as a barrier between your hand and the door pull. Properly discard the wipe as soon as you enter.
If you’re riding an escalator or using a shopping cart, again use a wipe as a barrier between your hand and whatever it is you must grab onto.
And when you return to the privacy of your office or home, scrub your hands thoroughly and dry off with disposable towels. It’s wise to have your kids do the same when they get home from school.
Always, always, wash or sanitize your hands before you put anything into your mouth. This sounds like common sense, yet most people don’t do it. As someone who loves to frequent restaurants, I’ve noticed the vast majority of patrons sit, hold a menu (public), touch the table or counter (public), order their wine or martinis, unroll the napkin (which the server has just touched), grab for the salt, etc. As you can see, it’s much easier to get exposed – than not.
My last piece of advice is to carry a package of disposable gloves in your automobile. Use gloves when filling your gas tank (imagine the vast numbers of people who have been there before you), when using the cash machine at your bank, and/or any time you have to touch something that thousands of others have been in contact with.
Fortunately, our natural immune systems protect us from most of the average bugs that are out there in the world, but Ebola is new and thus worth a little extra effort.
Clearly, this disease should never have reached our shores, and probably wouldn’t have, except for a certain ‘Irresponsible in Chief’ who seems hell bent on destroying America. Based upon his twisted policies, it appears he believes our population would be better off if our healthcare system and country collapsed under the burden of such a plague.
We can survive this. Your job is to think, use common sense, and be practical.