The Ebola epidemic has hit close to home with a confirmed case in the U.S. Dr. Aileen Marty, an FIU infectious disease professor who recently returned from a World Health Organization mission to Africa, sat down and answered some questions and concerns about Ebola on Reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything).
Here were some of the things we learned about Ebola from Dr. Marty’s AMA.
1. You shouldn’t worry too much about Ebola in the U.S.
With Ebola’s arrival to the U.S., the media and citizens are understandably worried, especially knowing what the disease does. However, Dr. Marty confirmed that it’s not time to panic just yet.
“The only people who should be worried are the ones that were in close contact with the Ebola patient in Texas while he was symptomatic. It’s a public health emergency of international concern, we have to have a mechanism to rapidly recognize individuals that may have this disease, unfortunately the system right now is just voluntary.”
2. What you should buy at a supermarket if Ebola goes critical
A redditor gave Dr. Marty a nightmare scenario: Ebola outbreak goes critical for the world, what do you buy at a Costco?
“Soap, Chlorine, Bottled Water, Gloves, Buckets, Water hose, Mask & Goggles (For close encounters), Condoms, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Sedative, Oral Rehydration Fluid.”
3. Why Ebola is so difficult to contain.
One of the unique things about Ebola is how much harder it is to contain than other viruses. Biggest reason: we found out about it too late.
“The reason it is difficult to contain is because it was not recognized for many months after it had started affecting people, killing people and traveling from one country to another. By the time the outbreak was recognized and that an international response was mounted, it was already in 3 countries and had spread to urban areas. Never before in the history of Ebola outbreaks has there been an outbreak that has involved major metropolitan areas and capital cities. The culture and habits of the affected population has also facilitated the spread and continuation of this infection. For example, burial practices, superstitions, etc.”
4. Even if you have Ebola, you still have to do your homework.
Education knows no bounds, especially in the case of a virus. Dr. Marty shares her experience with treating college students in West Africa.
“The patients with Ebola who were college students in Nigeria were given laptops to take their exams from the isolation ward. So not to worry – you will be able to take your midterms.”
5. This strain of Ebola is not airborne.
One redditor asked Dr. Marty to shut down all of the conspiracy theories about Ebola being airborne or mutating into a strain that is airborne. She replies:
“Most mutations are bad for viruses, very rarely does it benefit the virus. While Ebola is a negative strand RNA virus and therefore likely to make mistakes (have mutations). The chance that the mutation for this Ebola strain to become airborne is very small.”