How Ebola Works


Steering Clear of Ebola
A burial team from the Liberian Ministry of Health carries soiled medical supplies to burn along with the bodies of Ebola victims at a crematorium in 2014 in Liberia. John Moore/Getty Images

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, here are some recommended precautions.

  1. Avoid areas where there is a known outbreak.
  2. Wash your hands. Use soap and water, or else an alcohol-based hand scrub.
  3. Stay away from bush meat. Don't buy or eat meat from wild animals, including primates.
  4. Stay away from infected people and their bodily fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva.
  5. Use infection-control measures. Health care workers are warned to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, masks, gowns and eye shields, and to dispose of needles and sterilize other instruments.
  6. Don't handle human remains. The bodies of Ebola victims are still contagious. Burials should be handled by specially-trained teams using safety equipment [source: Mayo Clinic].
  7. Stay away from bats. The flying animals are believed to be reservoirs for the disease, transmitting the virus through some unknown mode to primates — and potentially, humans as well [source: Kupferschmidt].

Keep reading to learn more about how doctors and scientists detect Ebola and what they are doing to try to thwart the virus from its path of destruction.

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