The Ebola virus is not particularly easier to “catch” than other viruses, actually it is easier to catch the common cold, than the Ebola virus. The danger with EVD is that this recent outbreak has killed 50-60% of those infected, according to the BBC. You’re not too likely to die of the common cold.
Since EVD is contracted from bodily fluids, there is specific advice from the World Health Organization on how to avoid it. In Liberia, people are being told to abstain from shaking hands and from having sex altogether! For specifics, you can review the guidelines on the WHO Website. What we are going to share with you pertains to viruses in general.
Tip #1: Wash your hands frequently using soap. Especially if YOU have the virus. Each time you rub your eyes, blow your nose or scratch your lip, you are potentially picking up viral agents and can spread them to surfaces others will come in contact with or directly to the people you touch afterwards. (To learn more about the fascinating details about viruses, read the Encyclopedia of Life entry.)
We carry hand sanitizer with us, usually a natural peppermint pump spray or pure oregano essential oil, and use it frequently when we are with a lot of people. Sometimes Ivan says it make him feel like Monk, the OCD detective from the TV show, but we both feel it is an important part of keeping our immune systems strong.
By all means before you prepare food or eat, wash your hands using soap. I read a study years ago that focused on hand-washing techniques. What was discovered as a result of the study was that the temperature of the water and the length of time spent rubbing the hands was actually more important than the type of soap used.
Tip #2: Stay hydrated. This is a simple tip, but it is something the majority of people I know struggle with. Our first line of defense against viruses is the strong physical barrier (strong, although exceedingly thin) the mucus linings in our nose, eyes and mouth put up against the invaders. As viruses enter into our bodies, they move down into our stomachs where hydrochloric acid takes care of most of them. The mucus lining of our orifices keep viruses from being able to enter our blood stream when they first come in and tiny villi help move the mucosal lining downward to keep the invaders on this conveyer belt to their doom. When dehydrated, this amazing protective system comes to a screeching halt. The mucus dries out and the virus have the front door opened to let them right in.
Staying hydrated is a two-part process. We have to drink enough water, of course, and we also need to avoid drinking things that actually dehydrate us. If you think about what you drink, you are most likely drinking exclusively dehydrating drinks INSTEAD OF water – coffee, tea, soda, alcohol. Am I right? How many of us purposefully drink the four cups of water it takes to counter the dehydrating effects of one cup of coffee? No one I know, not even me!
If you are not hydrated, your mucus linings dry out and the first line of defense is not able to help you in any way. Drink up to half your body weight in ounces of purified, filtered water and limit the number of ounces of dehydrating drinks you consume (or include extra water to counter their drying effects).