How Not to Get Ebola

UPDATE: A sick airplane passenger who traveled to LAX and had been in Liberia is being tested For Ebola.

The first case of Ebola diagnosed inside the United States was confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Texas Department of State Health Services officials today.

The patient arrived from Liberia Sept. 20, sought treatment in the Dallas area Sept. 26 after feeling ill for a couple days, and was isolated on Sept. 28, said Thomas Frieden of the CDC. The person was tested for Ebola, and results came back positive today.

So now that a patient in a fellow Southwest border state has the world's most-feared virus, what can you do to avoid it?

Ebola is a relatively new virus that has killed 3091 people, almost all of them in Africa, the CDC says. Before we get to prevention, you should know that Frieden said today, "We will control this ... We will stop it here."

While deadly, the virus can be contained and halted under the right conditions, which is what happened this week in Nigeria.

The United States is much more well-equipped for this, and Frieden said those who had contact with the Texas patient were being monitored and tested to prevent further positives in America.

The virus is spread via bodily fluids, usually through direct human contact. Breathing the same air won't do it, for the most part, according to the experts. Here are Ebola's main pathways, according to the CDC:

-blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola

-objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
infected animals

-Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.

How Not to Get Ebola
peapod labs/Flickr

So what can you do to avoid it, just in case? You can take no-brainer measures, the CDC says:

-Wash your hands frequently.

-Avoid contact with blood or any other bodily fluids belonging to someone else, especially if they're sick.

-Don't handle stuff that came in contact with any of the above.

-Avoid touching bats and primates and any raw meat from these animals.

-Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated, if you can.

-Get treated if you have a 101-degree-plus fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain or random bruising or bleeding.

Stay safe.

[Added at 5:10 p.m.]: Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, a health director at the L.A. County Department of Public Health, says the likelihood of Ebola traveling here from Texas is low.

"There's really no risk that what's going on in Texas is going to come to California," he told us. "That's not going to happen."

Still, the doctor said, local health officials are ready,  just in case.

"We're really prepared," he said. "The main thing is to be aware and look for cases to make sure they're getting the care."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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