Ebola issues which don’t seem to warrant much attention.

keepcalmI don’t want to begin a panic, but I got thinking about something and in looking into it I’m a bit concerned.  Hopefully this is all for naught because, not being a virologist, I could be all wet.

Living in Dallas I have been inundated with news stories about the first confirmed case of Ebola Virus.

I remember hearing as the virus began to spread that one of the main causes was improper handling of the dead by the ignorant, monkey-eating relatives of the victim.  That got me thinking about what exactly that improper handling was.  Mostly it has to do with touching the body without proper protective clothing,  They talked about bodily fluids and human waste, etc.  I wondered how long the virus could remain on surfaces touched by an ebola infected victim, or on the dead victim himself.  I began to do a little research on the subject and found the paragraph below on the Public Health Agency of Canada site.

SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: Filoviruses have been reported capable to survive for weeks in blood and can also survive on contaminated surfaces, particularly at low temperatures (4°C)Footnote52Footnote61. One study could not recover any Ebolavirus from experimentally contaminated surfaces (plastic, metal or glass) at room temperature Footnote61.  In another study, Ebolavirus dried onto glass, polymeric silicone rubber, or painted aluminum alloy is able to survive in the dark for several hours under ambient conditions (between 20 and 250C and 30–40% relative humidity) (amount of virus reduced to 37% after 15.4 hours), but is less stable than some other viral hemorrhagic fevers (Lassa) Footnote53. When dried in tissue culture media onto glass and stored at 4 °C, Zaire ebolavirus survived for over 50 days Footnote61. This information is based on experimental findings only and not based on observations in nature. This information is intended to be used to support local risk assessments in a laboratory setting.

A study on transmission of ebolavirus from fomites in an isolation ward concludes that the risk of transmission is low when recommended infection control guidelines for viral hemorrhagic fevers are followed Footnote64. Infection control protocols included decontamination of floors with 0.5% bleach daily and decontamination of visibly contaminated surfaces with 0.05% bleach as necessary.

salad-barIf this stuff can live on the victims clothing for some period of time, why should I think it won’t live on airplane seats, airport waitning area seats, and pretty much everywhere in a HOTEL ROOM?  Sure, hotels change the sheets.  But they don’t change the duvets or the furniture.  What about salad bars?  Sure, they have those (really inconvenient) sneeze guards which make you throw your back out when you to reach in for something in the second row, but they have tongs to grab the salad items.  Tongs which you grab with your hands just like the last guy did.  Hands which you use to eat your food.    Not to alarm you any more than I may have already, but what about food you eat with your hands?  Burgers, fries, etc.  Do you use salt or catsup containers?  So did the last person at your table…

Then there’s the gloves.  The employees are supposed to wear gloves to handle your food.  Pay attention and you will notice that about 50% of the time they don’t remove the gloves to make change at the register.  In fact, in many cases which I have observed, the employees seem to wear the gloves to protect themselves from your germs while continuing to handle food with the same gloves.  As it turns out, I cook most of my own food so that problem is not really an issue for me – plus, I speak up when I seem someone unsafely using their gloves.

I’m going to stop now.  I’m making myself crazy.  And I’m going to begin cooking at home even more than I already do.  I’m thinking of going over to Sam’s right now and buying boxes of those little “towelettes” for my friends.

But the message from all the experts seems to be “Move along, nothing to see here”.

UPDATE  October 3, 2014

Buried deep in an article from the Washington Post yesterday is this:  “The virus can be contagious on surfaces from a few hours to a couple days depending on the material and exposure to sunlight.”  Actually, to me that seems like a really important piece of information.


I take full responsibility for my own opinions, comments and slurs against asshats.  I'm just another guy with just another opinion. Although, I may be turning into my father who my mother always said was 'the world's foremost authority."



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