National health experts are monitoring the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa and are updating their guidance continuously. Please check the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola) for the most up-to-date information.
Ebola can be a frightening and confusing topic, so it can be helpful to know some basic facts about the virus.
First, the risk of having or getting Ebola is extremely low unless a person traveled to an affected area (listed on the CDC website) and had direct contact with the blood or body fluids (such as blood, vomit, diarrhea) of an Ebola-infected person, or with objects soiled with that person’s blood or body fluids. Unless someone meets both of these conditions and has early symptoms (such as fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain), they are not at risk of having Ebola.
According to state and federal health officials, you can only get Ebola from:
- Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick or has died from Ebola,
- Touching contaminated objects, like needles, or
- Touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids or their meat
You cannot get Ebola from the air, water, or food, according to the CDC.
Also, remember that the early symptoms of Ebola are similar to other very common illnesses, such as the flu here in the United States and malaria, which is very common in West Africa.
The Norwalk Health Department is working closely with city officials, emergency responders, health care providers, and state health officials to monitor the situation and prepare in the unlikely event that Ebola should appear in our area.
What can you do now?
Again, it is very unlikely that you or someone you know would be at risk of getting Ebola, unless they meet the criteria above. Of course, we can all take steps to stay healthy overall this season and avoid other illnesses like colds and the flu:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- If you are feeling ill, stay home from work or school.
- Get your flu shot.
For more information:
CDC Ebola page
CDC Ebola Fact Sheet
World Health Organization Ebola Frequently Asked Questions
Statement from Governor Malloy’s office on the State’s response