The preventive steps should be carried out when handling not only those who have been confirmed to have Ebola, but to those who are suspected to have the disease as well. It is, after all, better to err on the side of caution.
Ebola prevention involves the following:
- When handling Ebola-infected patients, health care workers should ensure they make use of personal protective equipment (like gloves, face mask, goggles, face shield, long sleeved gowns, etc).
- In hospitals and health care centres, patients suspected or confirmed to have Ebola should be isolated from other patients.
- Monitor persons who are suspected to be infected with the virus.
- Trace, identify and carry out tests to diagnose all individuals who the infected persons have come in contact with after infection with Ebola virus. This is called contact tracing.
- Pin down and monitor very closely anyone who was in contact with an Ebola-infected person for at least 21 days.
- Conduct safe burials for Ebola-infected individuals that are deceased (burials that are safe – in the sense that, they is no risk of others becoming infected at the burial).
- Educating and raising awareness about Ebola – how it is spread, the risk factors, symptoms, treatment, prevention, amongst other things. It is important to involve the society at large in the steps to achieve Ebola prevention and control, in order to be successful at this endeavour.
- People should avoid eating meat from bats, monkeys, antelopes, porcupine, chimpanzees and gorillas. This is because these animals – when infected – can transmit the virus to humans.
- Animals (especially those that can spread the virus if infected) should be handled carefully with gloves – minimise direct contact as much as possible. This applies especially to veterinary doctors, animal care takers (in zoos, forest reserves), etc.
- Immediate burial of people who die from the disease.
- Practice and maintain good hygiene – with regular hand washing, use of alcohol-based sanitisers, to mention a few.
- Maintain a clean environment.
- As much as is possible, stay away from places where Ebola patients are being treated.
- Laboratory samples (blood, urine, to mention just a few) taken from Ebola-infected persons should be tested and handled in laboratories that have the adequate facilities and suitable equipment. This is because such samples should be handled in maximum biological containment.
- The samples collected from infected individuals or persons suspected to have Ebola should be handled with extreme caution by properly trained staff. The samples are dangerous!
- Plans and strategies should be set in place to combat every case of confirmed or suspected Ebola infection. This is to drastically minimise and/or prevent risk of spread.
- Certain machines (including robots) have been manufactured to disinfect hospitals (using ultraviolet rays) so as to kill the Ebola virus and prevent its spread.