How contagious is the virus?
You are not likely to catch Ebola just by being in proximity with someone who has the virus; it is not airborne, like the flu or respiratory viruses such as SARS.
Instead, Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids. If an infected person’s blood or vomit gets in another person’s eyes, nose or mouth, the infection may be transmitted. In the current outbreak, most new cases are occurring among people who have been taking care of sick relatives or who have prepared an infected body for burial.
Health care workers are at high risk, especially if they have not been properly equipped with or trained to use and decontaminate protective gear correctly.
The virus can survive on surfaces, so any object contaminated with bodily fluids, like a latex glove or a hypodermic needle, may spread the disease.
Sourced from the New York Times.
When Aids began to engulf the gay community I worked as a patient advocate/supporter of the many young men who were dying in London. In 1984 I spent months in Paris supporting a friend whom was dying with a multitude of infectious diseases. The flat we lived in over looked the blue lighted laboratories of the Pasteur Institute where the HIV virus was being isolated. Treatment then was no more than aspirin and penicillin. After my friend died, isolated and family alone, I returned to London where I found myself in the front-line at St Thomas’s teaching hospital where the dying men where being treated through the VD clinics. It was there that the drug AZT was started to be administered. The men whom I was supporting in their home-care, before local services were available, all put their hands up for the new drug AZT. Hope glimmered but for those first AZT takers the side effects were horrendous. Excruciating pain which those for us close could do nothing to relieve their suffering. Soon those first patients died. At the time I became a vocal critic of AZT. My strong view was sourced from the agony the dying men were experiencing. But all those men wanted to live and any remote chance for survival meant hope.
Shortly after the measure of the dose of AZT was modified and reduced dramatically where it started to prolong life.
My admiration goes to all those front-line nurses and doctors who are working where the out-breaks are occurring. Every support should now be given to them.
The experts — ethicists and representatives of the affected countries and other players involved in the outbreak — are having a discussion at the request of the World Health Organization to debate whether it is ethical to use experimental Ebola therapies in this epidemic.
Most of the treatment options, including the one given recently to two American aid workers, have never been tested in humans. Studies in Ebola-infected primates provide the strongest clues of whether these potential drugs and candidate vaccines might work on people and whether they are safe for people to use.