In response to fears that the Ebola virus may soon reach U.S. shores, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a publication entitled, “Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness.”
While the document is geared towards healthcare facilities and workers, there are many lessons we can take away when planning for how to prepare for an Ebola virus outbreak at home.
As they say, it first helps to know your enemy, so below is a brief background on the disease.
What is the Ebola Virus?
Ebola, officially known as Ebola virus disease (EVD), is a virus spread initially from animals to humans, and then from human to human. Its primary symptoms are a sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, sore throat and headache. Those symptoms are usually soon followed by diarrhea, vomiting and impaired kidney and liver function.
The disease has a 90% fatality rate. Most victims eventually succumb to internal and external bleeding. Unfortunately, there is no official vaccine for humans or animals.
One of the things that makes the Ebola virus so dangerous is that it has an incubation time lasting up to 21 days. While infected humans are not thought to be contagious until symptoms are present, this delay provides plenty of time for an infected person to move about the world and spread the disease before falling ill.
How is Ebola Virus Spread?
The Ebola virus is spread from an infected human to another via the direct contact of bodily fluids. As of this writing the virus is not airborne, but that is concern going forward as the virus continues to spread and mutate.
In 1989, Ebola virus went airborne in a Reston, VA CDC medical lab, so the possibility of the virus being transmitted outside of contact with bodily fluid is not without precedent.
Protective Items to Stockpile Now
Every fall, ahead of the usual flu scare, we stock up on a few items to get us through the winter in the event we don’t want to visit a pharmacy of doctor’s office filled with infected customers. A couple of years ago we bought several boxes Guaifenesin (expectorant) after reading that year’s flu was particularly dangerous because the lungs of those infected would fill with fluid.
We also typically buy facemasks, gloves, and hand santizers.
To specifically prepare for a potential Ebola outbreak we will stock up on the following items over the next couple of weeks:
- Fluid-resistant or impermeable gowns
- Face shield/goggles
- Shoe covers (booties)
- N95 respirators
- Hand sanitizers
- Lysol spray and wipes
- Clorox bleach
- Anti-bacterial soaps
- Loperamide (anti-diarrhea)
- Fever reducers (ibuprofin)
- Gatorade (to replenish needed salts and electrolytes)
- Plastic drop cloths
- Duct tape
- Heavy duty black garbage bags
- Toilet paper
How to Set Up a Quarantine Room In Your Home
This would also be a good time to develop a quarantine plan in your own household. If a family member becomes sick in a SHTF scenario hospitals will likely be full and you will have to provide care at home.
It is vital that the infected family member be quarantined from remaining family members, especially children and older adults or those with a weakened immune system.
Those providing care for infected family members must take precautions by wearing gloves, gowns, a mask, a face shield or goggles, and have a plan for properly disposing of waste, soiled clothes and linens of an infect family member.
For now, the Ebola virus outbreak is limited to the following countries:
- Sierra Leone
However, in this day of international travel, combined with a long incubation period, it seems inevitable that the disease will soon spread.