As if there weren’t enough frightening things going on in the world today, we’re hearing news reports about Ebola and Enterovirus – no one feels like extending their hands In friendship for any reason.
What can we do to protect ourselves from everything contagious including influenza, the common cold, HIV, Hepatitus and TB? Know the facts, use common sense, take precautions to protect yourself AND unsuspecting folks around you, and seek the proper and immediate medical care if you suspect that you have been exposed or have symptoms.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) offers great information about exposure risk factors for Ebola and tips to recognize symptoms at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/qa.html
In general we should all be practicing healthy habits such as frequent hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting food preparation surfaces, sneezing into your sleeve, storing food at prescribed temperatures, get recommended vaccines, and staying home when you are sick so you don’t generously share the germs. Health care workers, although still learning, are being trained to effectively care and treat those who are ill without contaminating themselves or spreading the germs to others. It is frightening though since so much is unknown in the world of infectious diseases.
I once watched a group of teens who were receiving first response emergency medical training. Unknown to the teens, the instructor “sprinkled” the pseudo victim with glow-in-the-dark powder. Most of the teens donned gloves and even wrapped the “patient” cocoon style for transport to prevent contamination. After they were done and removed their protective gear the instructor turned out the overhead lights and the scene was unbelievable. Several of the students had inadvertently touched themselves in unprotected areas, had handled equipment and had contaminated their partners on scene – all without realizing. It was a terrific lesson which taught them to seriously use PPE (personal protection equipment) and care.
Right now New York and New Jersey are arguing for a 21-day quarantine period for anyone exposed or suspected to have been exposed to Ebola. There are those who believe this is tantamount to unlawful imprisonment while others say it is the safest way to keep from spreading any potential disease to the public and loved ones. I spoke to an EMS provider who told me of an in-house employee discussion; the majority of those present said they would voluntarily enter into quarantine and not take the chance of infecting their families. I agree. How do you think you would feel if you believed you had the potential of passing something dangerous on to family, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers on the street?
Meanwhile the rest of us need to carry on with our lives and our responsibilities. We need to follow REASONABLE and healthy routines and try our darnedest not to live in any kind of crippling fear. Learn all you can about the common diseases out there and if you are able, support research efforts into cures and prevention.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy.