The landing of Ebola on North American soil and in an American hospital has generated fear, confusion, and for some, a feeling of panic over the potential of a global pandemic. I am compelled to say this: now is not the time to fall prey to fear-mongers and others that wish to stir up thoughts of an impeding apocalypse.
Instead, consider this a wakeup call to continue your emergency preparations with a special emphasis on learning how to create a sick room in the event you might need one at some point down the road.
I am going to lead off today with an article from Backdoor Survival Contributing Author, Joe Alton, also known as Dr. Bones. Although he first wrote this article on July 30th, he has continued to make updates to reflect some of the latest news. Read and learn.
An Ebola Update from Dr. Bones
Several countries in West Africa are in the throes of an epidemic of Ebola virus. Over 1200 cases and almost 700 deaths in the country of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia make it a candidate for the next great Pandemic. The disease has decimated health care workers, with a number of doctors, nurses, missionaries, and others dying from the illness. Indeed, the Peace Corps is now pulling its workers from the affected countries as we speak.
The Ebola outbreak hit close to home when American Patrick Sawyer died in Lagos, Nigeria en route to visit his family in Minnesota. Although he did not become Patient Zero in the U.S., other infected Americans were transferred to the CDC hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite all this, few people really know what Ebola virus is and how it does its damage, and they certainly don’t know what to do if it arrives in their neighborhood.
Dr. Bones says: Now this: West African woman dies in London airport after flight from Sierra Leone. Authorities state Ebola tests proved negative. A New York Hospital is now treating a suspected Ebola patient, also recently arrived from West Africa, and awaiting testing. CDC admits it has tested 6 possible cases, but all have turned out to be negative.
Dr. Bones says: The Nigerian doctor who treated Patrick in Lagos has now tested positive for Ebola, although no news as to whether he is sick.
Despite all this, few people really know what Ebola virus is and how it does its damage, and they certainly don’t know what to do if it arrives in their neighborhood.
Ebola virus, a member of the Filoviridae virus family, was first reported in 1976, when 602 cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in 431 deaths. Ebola, named after the river where the first victims were identified, has several variants, a sign that it probably has the capacity to mutate.
WHAT DO WE KNOW?
Not much. How Ebola manages to first infect humans is poorly understood. Primates like monkeys and apes are possible agents of transmission (also called vectors), although birds, rodents, bats, pigs, and insects may be more likely to transmit the disease. The virus can even be transmitted to dogs, although they don’t seem to get sick.
Ebola appears to be transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids, even sweat. The practice of relatives and workers washing a body before burial may have helped spread the disease. A 2012 Canadian study suggested that the virus may also be transmitted in air droplets. Given the highly contagious nature of the disease, this would be big trouble if true, but hasn’t been proven.
What does Ebola virus do to its victims? Ebola causes a hemorrhagic fever with a 25-90% death rate, much higher than even the worst of the influenza pandemics of the past century. Compare this to a 2.5% death rate from the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and 0.1% from routine influenza outbreak.
Dr. Bones says: The current outbreak has over a 60% death rate at present.
Symptoms begin presenting about 2 weeks after exposure. Ebola patients develop the sudden onset of what first appears to be influenza: Aches and pains, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever and chills, and malaise are commonly seen at this stage. Nausea is noted, often accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Later on, The central nervous system becomes affected: Severe headaches, altered mental status, and seizures ensue, sometimes resulting in the patient going into a coma.
Evidence of disorders in blood clotting are seen in advanced stages of the disease. Signs include:
• Spotty Rashes
• Broken blood vessels in the skin
• Collections of blood under the skin after injections
• Bloody vomit or sputum
• Spontaneous nosebleeds
• Bleeding from gums
• Blood in bowel movements
Once bleeding disorders occur, the likelihood of survival is slim. Although deaths from severe hemorrhage have occurred in women giving birth, multiple organ failure leading to shock is the usual cause of death.
It’s thought that Ebola doesn’t spread until a victim develops symptoms. As the illness progresses, however, bodily fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding become very contagious.
Poor hygiene and lack of proper medical supplies in underdeveloped countries, such as in West Africa impede the progress of medical authorities to tame the outbreak. The best they can do is isolate sick individuals as best they can and follow infectious disease precautions.
This is something they are, apparently, not doing so well, because so many medical personnel are getting sick. When the doctors and nurses are dying, you know you have an illness about which to be truly concerned. Imagine if the disease becomes worldwide.
So how do we cure Ebola? We don’t.
There is no known treatment, cure, or vaccine for Ebola at present. The doctors can only try to make the patient comfortable and hope they get better on their own.
Therefore, I recommend stocking up on masks, gowns, eye protection, and gloves, and learn about how to have an effective survival sick room. We’ve got a video on our YouTube channel on the subject.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE…
So what’s the big deal? Why should an epidemic in Africa matter to citizens of countries thousands of miles away?
Well, this outbreak is not in the deepest areas of Africa, it’s on the west coast, a more populated and easily traveled area. News about the virus is disrupting the economies of the countries affected, and their governments haven’t been all that straightforward about giving reports, until just recently.
As such, many natives of the countries affected are suspicious of health workers, sometimes blocking them from entering their villages with knives and machetes.
Dr. Bones says: There are more than 10 different suspected Ebola “hotspots” that health workers can’t access due to hostile locals.
The country of Guinea, where the first cases occurred, is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminum. Therefore, exports from the country go to many of the world’s manufacturing plants.
The advent of air travel can easily spread the disease throughout the world is just 24 hours. As a matter of fact, a Liberian official took sick on a flight to Nigeria, one of the most populous countries in Africa, and died soon after. With an incubation period of a couple of weeks, you might have Ebola and not even know it (until you’ve infected a lot of other people).
This may be a third-world disease now, but it wouldn’t take much to make it, indeed, the next great pandemic. We’ll keep you posted.
Dr. Bones says: Although there shouldn’t be panic, I think it is very possible that Ebola will make its way to Europe and North America at some point.
Joe Alton, M.D.
What You Should Do Now – A BDS Reader Speaks Up
In the coming days, the internet will be bursting with advice of one sort or another. As I mentioned in the beginning, the most important thing to do is to continue with your preps, including extra emphasis and stored food, water, and sickroom supplies. It also would be prudent to keep some cash on hand because if, and this is a big if, there is a huge panic, there may be a run on the banks.
Let common sense prevail. As a matter of fact, Backdoor Survival reader “Dee” shared these common sense suggestions in the Sunday Survival Buzz and they are worth repeating here.
I never rely on one or two plans. I do like the essential oils as one method. I will also be using local herbs and foraged items which may work in combo. The big addition I’m adding to my first aid gear for illnesses such as Ebola, but also if it were necessary to handle the dead or dying.
1. Shoe covers—- rubber boots would be great but I’m buying several Dollar store shower caps instead. They work for keeping clothes clean when traveling, they should work for this too.
2. Gowns—-I’m buying some heavy duty yard garbage bags to work in a pinch but also some of those Dollar store ponchos for space saving purposes.
3. Gloves—-I have 3 boxes of disposable gloves but thinking a couple of pair of dishwashing gloves would be handy since they are long and more durable. For this, bigger is better.
4. Goggles—- I have some cheap store ones, but now, I’m also going to store some face shields to cover the whole face even with.
5. Masks— I need a few more of those N99 masks to wear with the shield depending on what’s happening (if I know specifically, if not, wear anyway for caution).
6. More Duct Tape…which may be need to create isolation units and/or sealing outfits to keep contamination low. real fashionable I know.
7. Tarps or big roll of plastic for creating those walls for isolation units.
For your consideration, you might want to take a peek at the following articles as you continue your quest for information on Ebola and on pandemics in general
25 Critical Facts About This Ebola Outbreak That Every American Needs To Know
Surgical Masks for the Survival Kit
The Survival Sick Room or Video: The Survival Sick Room
Seven Facts You Should Know About Ebola
The Final Word
You already know that I am a big believer in having surgical masks on hand. Knowing that I asked Dr. Bones whether he had a preference when it came to masks. Did he recommend N100s or were N95s okay? Here was his response:
If N100 masks aren’t significantly more expensive that N95 (a more standard mask), I say go for it!
So what happens next?
Tomorrow I share my own thoughts and preparations as I put together a plan to hunker down in place. That said, I hope and pray that it will never get to that, but as with all things disaster-related, yes, it could happen. Better to be ready and not need it than to be caught off guard with no plan at all.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Today I share some sick room supplies related to this article.
3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduce your exposure to airborne particles.
Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask: Do not confuse P100 masks with the N100s. N100 is what you want since the P100’s are used to filter particulate only and not gasses and vapors.
3M TEKK Protection Chemical Splash/Impact Goggle: I read a ton of reviews before settling on these. They have not arrived yet so I can not say whether they are any good or not. That said, for the price, I am sure that I will find some use for them.
3M Utility Duct Tape: I am also stocking up on Duct tape. After reading Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together, I now know it has tons of medical uses. But . . . see the next item.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: By Joe and Amy Alton, this book will teach you how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, and including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.
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