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How Ebola Works


Steering Clear of Ebola
A woman dries bushmeat near the Ivory Coast's Yamoussoukro highway on March 29, 2014. Some African governments have banned bushmeat, or the meat of wild animals, in an effort to stop the spread of Ebola.
A woman dries bushmeat near the Ivory Coast's Yamoussoukro highway on March 29, 2014. Some African governments have banned bushmeat, or the meat of wild animals, in an effort to stop the spread of Ebola.
© Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters/Corbis

While some cases have been reported elsewhere, the most dangerous forms of Ebola are largely found in central and western Africa. So you're probably safe if you don't venture into those parts of the world very frequently. But if you do, the best ways to protect yourself from the virus are:

  1. Don't go into the forest or caves. Since bats are suspected to be the reservoirs of the virus, it's just best to stay away from places where they are present.
  2. Try to control yourself from messing around with dead animals. No hunting, no autopsies, no taxidermy, no consuming of bushmeat. Especially not on monkeys and apes.

These two guidelines should help you from becoming the index patient in an outbreak. And to keep yourself from becoming a later victim in an outbreak, don’t come into direct contact with anyone who is showing symptoms of the disease since the virus is passed through contact with bodily fluids. This means using protective measures in health care situations (like gloves and goggles), never reusing dirty needles and staying away from participating in any burial rituals on Ebola victims.

Other than those protective measures, there isn't much else to be done to avoid Ebola. There have been some observations that apes have a higher susceptibility and mortality from Ebola at the end of the rainy season and start of the dry one. It's thought that seasonal changes cause stresses in animal populations as they come in closer contact looking for food, perhaps becoming more aggressive. So if the resting place of Ebola is in an animal, times of season change may not be the best time for you to schedule an African safari, especially if your safari includes hunting near caves.

If you are unlucky enough to contract the disease, go to the next page to learn more about how doctors and scientists detect it and what they are doing to try to thwart the virus from its path of destruction.