The Ebola virus is spreading at an alarming pace across West Africa. It has already killed more than 3,000 people, and is rapidly becoming an economic development crisis. Other health programs have halted, farmers have not been able to work their fields, individuals have not been able to take their goods to market, and business to the region has been spiraling downwards. Ebola threatens to unravel so much of the hard-earned progress that countries such as Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have made over the last decade.
The good news is that we know how to contain Ebola. To fight this disease, we need to ensure that all citizens know about Ebola, know how to protect themselves, and know how to spot signs of the disease. Every conversation, every tweet, Facebook post, and every way you can share these key facts helps combat myths and raise awareness. Education is power—help us #EndEbola together by reading and sharing these key messages.
What is Ebola?
- Ebola is real, and it kills. But you can protect yourself, your family, and your community.
- Ebola causes sudden high fever, extreme tiredness, headache, body pain and loss of appetite.
- Ebola is not always fatal. In fact, nearly half of the patients in this outbreak so far have fully recovered. Early treatment at your nearest health facility increases your chance of survival compared to staying at home.
- Going to the health clinic the moment you have signs and symptoms protects your family and your community and prevents the spread of the disease.
How can you get Ebola?
- Ebola enters your body through your mouth, nose and eyes, or a break in the skin.
- To catch Ebola, you must touch the bodily fluids of a person with Ebola and then touch your eyes nose or mouth. Bodily fluids include sweat, stools, vomit, urine, semen, blood, and breast milk.
- Ebola can also be caught from a used razor, an injection with a needle that has already been used, or a cut by a knife that has been used on someone who is infected.
- Burial rituals can spread Ebola. Even after a person has died of Ebola, he or she is still highly infectious.
- If you have recovered from Ebola, you cannot catch it again during this outbreak. However, Ebola can stay in semen after a person has recovered: abstaining from sex or using a condom for 3 months is advised. Nursing mothers who have recovered from Ebola are advised not to breastfeed their child for 3 months following recovery.
- You cannot get Ebola by talking to people, walking in the street or shopping in the market.
- A person who does not have physical symptoms of Ebola cannot infect others.
How can you prevent against Ebola?
- Do not touch a sick person with suspected Ebola or someone who has died from Ebola.
- If someone you know dies with symptoms of Ebola, do not touch the body. Call your local toll-free Ebola hotline immediately and consult your local community leader. Pay your respects without touching, kissing, cleaning or wrapping the body. The body can be prayed over to complete religious practices, but at a safe distance of one meter, without touching. The person’s clothes and bedding are contagious and must be burnt. The house, latrine and person’s room must be disinfected by trained staff.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water after every social contact.
How can you help fight Ebola?
- Begin by educating and protecting yourself, your family and your community.
- Be alert. If you or someone you know falls sick with sudden high fever, extreme tiredness, headache, body pain and loss of appetite, consult your local community leader and immediately call your local Ebola hotline for advice.
- Use your social media channels to spread the facts and raise awareness. Your voice matters!
- Speak with influential leaders like Chiefs, Traditional Leaders, Imams, Priests, Pastors, women’s and youth groups, and traditional healers about their role in educating the community about how to prevent Ebola.
- Volunteer with Community Health Workers going door-to-door educating the population.
- Speak with your neighbours about and organize yourselves around how you can support prevention of Ebola.