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5 Ways You Still Can't Get Ebola


4
Ebola Doesn't Pass Through Drinking Water or Food
A man washes his hands in chlorinated water as UNICEF health workers walk through the streets, speaking about Ebola prevention on Aug. 18, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia. John Moore/Getty Images
A man washes his hands in chlorinated water as UNICEF health workers walk through the streets, speaking about Ebola prevention on Aug. 18, 2014 in New Kru Town, Liberia. John Moore/Getty Images

Chances are, you aren't going to get Ebola from anything you drink or eat. The only liquids Ebola persists in are bodily fluids – blood, diarrhea and vomit mostly (1 milliliter can carry a million infectious particles!) [source: Poon]. Unlike bacteria, viruses are not very resistant outside the body, so coming across Ebola in your drinking water is not going to happen. Water does a terrible job at protecting the Ebola virus, and it gets deactivated in a matter of minutes [source: Poon]. What if your water isn't contaminated with the virus alone, but with Ebola-infected cells? Even with the protection that the cell would offer the virus, the change in salt concentration between water and bodily fluids is enough to cause the cell to burst, killing the virus in the process.

You also are highly unlikely to end up eating your way to an Ebola infection. There's really only one category of food that might make you sick – bushmeat, wild animals captured in developing regions of the world like Africa. Ebola infections have been associated with people handling and eating these animals when the animals are infected with Ebola [source: National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases]. Without lab tests, there's no real way to confirm if an animal is infected with Ebola, so it's best to stay away from eating and handling dead animals from Africa.

As we said, Ebola only lives in bodily fluids of infected people. While saliva doesn't carry the virus as strongly as blood, vomit and diarrhea, Ebola has been detected in the saliva of patients in severely advanced stages of the disease. So technically if you share food or drink with someone very sick with Ebola, the disease may be transmitted to you through his or her leftover saliva.


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