The Ebola outbreak has many in a panic. More recently, people are becoming aware of the climbing death toll from the world’s deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak, which has taken over 4,400 lives in West Africa. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cautioned West Africans to avoid certain popular wildlife species that are thought to carry the disease.
One out of the many popular carriers of Ebola are “Old World” fruit bats. These bats also go by the name of “flying fox.” They are of the Pteropodidae family (a bat family of about 180 species) and one of the largest bats in the world. Since fruit bats are a common host of the Ebola virus, we will share how they spread the disease. They usually spread the disease through bites and exposure to their secretions like saliva and blood. While there are no reported cases of Ebola in Houston by fruit bats, the city is renowned for its vast bat population which may lead to concern for many. Though the Pteropididae family is not found in the Western hemisphere (they’re primarily in West Africa), many of these species migrate thousands of miles from their home. Luckily they don’t consider Houston their home away from home.
Though the Ebola virus is not an immediate threat in Houston, it is important to educate ourselves about potential threats to our health and quality of life. On August 8, 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency. We at Gulf Coast Exterminators (GCE), the leading provider of Houston pest control, has taken it upon ourselves to educate you and your loved ones on the Ebola outbreak and address many concerns.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is an extremely severe disease that appeared In 1976. Ebola was first discovered during simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and Zaire. Since then, five different strains have been identified but only four (Ebola-Zaire virus, Ebola-Sudan virus, Ebola-Ivory Coast virus, and Ebola-Bundibugyo) causes disease in humans.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of the Ebola virus include backache (low-back pain), diarrhea, fever, and nausea, which may not seem too specific to any one disease. It’s the late symptoms like bleeding from eyes, ears, mouth, rectum, and nose, in conjunction with a rash over the entire body that shows specific signs of the disease. Those infected by the Ebola virus will begin noticing symptoms from 2 to 21 days after exposure, though the average is 8 to 10 days. Ebola virus infections can only be confirmed through laboratory analysis, such as CBC (‘complete blood count’ including the number of red and white blood cells and hemoglobin level) and electrolyte (the amount of electrically charged minerals in the body) testing.
The Ebola virus is spread through physical contact collectively between humans and animals. Modes of transfer are through:
- blood or bodily fluids (including but not limited to saliva, sweat, or vomit)
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected animals
Thankfully, Ebola is not spread through air, water, or food (though in Africa, food such as hunted wild animals in contact with infected bats can cause infection). To clear misconceptions, no evidence suggests that mosquitos or other insects can transmit the Ebola virus. Only mammals (e.g. humans, monkeys, bats, and apes) possess the ability to become infected with, and spread the Ebola virus.
There is no cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus. Standard treatment of the Ebola virus depends primarily on the person’s immune response combined with supportive care (balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections).
Though a high percentage of those infected may die, many recover with appropriate medical care. The good news is that those who recover from Ebola, develop antibodies lasting at least 10 years. This helps prevent another Ebola virus infection, though findings are unaware if it protects from all strains. The bad news with recovery is that some develop long-term complications, such as sight and joint problems.
Ways to prevent infection and transmission
There are a few ways to prevent infection and transmission of the Ebola virus. It’s best to avoid traveling to an area that is experiencing an outbreak unless you are a trained professional aiding an area. If you need to go to an area experiencing an outbreak, wear protective clothing such as gowns, masks, gloves, and protective eyewear. If you are a civilian, it’s best to avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate can provide information on other safe havens. If you have been in an area of an outbreak and made it out without harm, it’s best to monitor your health for 21 days. If you develop symptoms, immediately seek medical care.
Hygiene is of the utmost concern during an Ebola outbreak. Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap, water, and an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This reduces the chance of infection, as eating with hands or touching eyes without proper hygiene gives the virus a chance to enter your body. In addition, it’s best to stay away from items that may have been infected by blood or bodily fluids. These items include medical equipment, clothing, bedding, and syringes.
Understandably, if you lost a loved one to Ebola you would want to give them a proper burial. When doing so, it’s best to avoid funeral or burial rituals that require touching the body. The Ebola virus can still be active on the deceased.
Animals with a high-risk of infection such as bats and primates should be avoided. Their blood, fluids, and meat to be prepared as food, should be avoided as well. If you think an animal is infected, do not handle it. Call the proper authority to take care of the situation.
Though there aren’t any Ebola ridden bats in Houston, if you suspect there are bats in your home or business, don’t attempt to handle them alone whether they’re dead or alive. We at Gulf Coast Exterminators are trained to help you handle any situation with bat removal. Bats prefer hiding in hard to reach places like attics and are difficult to control once caught. Though bats don’t usually attack, they can bite as a defense. We perform bat removal in a humane manner so they can be safely returned to the wild. After the problem is addressed, measures are taken to protect your home or business preventing future problems. GCE prides ourselves on our ability to rid your home or building safely of bats, humanely and efficiently. Read up on more information about how we perform bat removal keeping your property and loved ones safe.
We hope the information we provided on the Ebola outbreak has given you relief and knowledge of the ongoing situation. Gulf Coast Exterminators are here to help, let us help save you money and reduce your pest stress. Call us today at 281-449-7404 for a free estimate regarding any pest removal.
More Information on the Ebola Outbreak:
- Houston Chronicle: “Ebola in US: People scared, but outbreak unlikely”
- KHOU: “Ebola outbreak prompts travel restrictions for Houstonians”
- “CDC: “2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa”
- US Department Of Defense: “Obama: U.N. Will Mobilize Countries to Fight Ebola Outbreak”
- The White House: “Remarks by the President on the Ebola Outbreak”