We had a false Ebola alarm this week in Macedonia.
Let me repeat: false alarm. (Read the Reuters article here.)
A British man died in the capital city of Skopje Thursday after exhibiting signs of Ebola. In the midst of the deadliest outbreak of the disease since it was identified in 1976, understandably this was uncomfortable news. Test results came back today, ruling out Ebola as his cause of death.
Our Peace Corps Medical Officer, Dr. Mimi (an incredible resource we’re lucky to have), discussed the news and the disease itself at a Peace Corps event Friday.
Here are the highlights:
Ebola can only be spread to others after symptoms begin. Symptoms can appear between 2 and 21 days after exposure. Those symptoms include fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising and muscle pain.
The disease can be spread through direct contact with body fluids of an infected person, direct contact with an object contaminated (like a needle), and direct contact with the blood or infected meat of an infected animal. (Another point for vegetarians.)
Have I mentioned direct contact?
The bottom line is if you aren’t getting up close and personal with bodily fluids of an infected person while they are showing symptoms, you’re not getting it.
I think that there has been a lot of misinformation going around and it’s a pretty darn scary disease, so I can understand the concern. It’s important to use common sense, it’s important to have good hygiene practices and it’s important to stay informed.
Our Country Director, Kathleen Corey, also addressed the group and one thing she said really stood out to me. Ebola has killed one of every two infected people since the outbreak and has been prevalent in West African nations, including: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. She mentioned that since a case has been identified in the US, it has started to hit home a lot more for many Americans.
Not for her.
She served in the Peace Corps in Liberia. One of most affected counties is where she spent the majority of her 27 months of service.
For Peace Corps volunteers, our definitions of home expand to include everywhere we serve.