Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in 2014 but has been updated with more recent info.
This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
The new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is very much in the news. Over 1000 cases have been confirmed since the diseased resurfaced in August, 2018. It is now considered the second largest and second deadliest outbreak after the 2014 West Africa outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people.
The problem would be if someone were already infected and didn’t know it, gets on a plane and potentially exposed hundreds of people.
What’s different since the last outbreak?
There is now an experimental Ebola vaccine and new treatments that were not around back in 2014, that are being administered to affected residents.
Unfortunately, several treatment centers have come under attack by armed militia so some of these facilities had to close.
The communities continue to distrust health workers which prevents people from seeking treatment.
As of this writing, the World Health Organization has declined to declare the Ebola outbreak a global emergency.
Your city may be far away but it’s best to be aware
The current outbreak location is not far from the South Sudan with the borders of Rwanda and Uganda close by as well. With international travel, it is not hard to imagine someone with the virus boarding a plane. They arrive at their destination and feel sick enough to go to a hospital. Consider what could happen when a person who appears to have flu-like symptoms but has Ebola were to go an emergency room.
- The person signs in and sits down before getting called. If they appear to be in urgent need, they may get seen quicker than others, but either way, they sit in a waiting room with people on either side, in front and behind them. These people could potentially be exposed. I should state that all reports say they virus is not airborne, yet a few healthcare workers who have suits on still seem to catch it somehow. Let’s say just four people are exposed, being on the conservative side. There would be more if the hospital is in a busy urban area.
- The patient then gets called to speak to a billing person who interviews him or her regarding insurance and payment. That person could now be exposed.
- Finally, the patient is sent inside the emergency department. While waiting for the doctor, a nurse or assistant takes their blood pressure, temperature, questions them about symptoms, etc. None of these personnel were protective clothing. Now we have seen five people exposed, from the minute the patient came in.
- Finally, the person is seen by a doctor, who then orders that the patient be admitted. The doctor is now the 6th person who came in contact with the infected patient.
If the patient is not immediately identified as contagious, more workers will be taking x-rays, wheeling the patient around in elevators, etc. By now, there could be at least 10 or more people exposed. Unless the hospital is prepared and is on the lookout for Ebola, they may not identify the symptoms right away.
At a recent doctor’s appointment, I asked the doctor if he was at all concerned about the spread of Ebola in the U.S. The doctor indicated he was not too worried, “unless some grievous error were to happen,” in other words, a medical mistake, which can happen if there were more infected patients. I’ve worked in hospitals in the past and accidents do happen. Even the most careful, rigorous protocols occasionally fail. I don’t want anyone to panic by any means, but to consider the possibility and make a plan just in case.
A few things to think about:
- Are you at risk for infection if the virus spread to your town or city? Densely populated areas tend to have people living closer together, thus increasing the risk of exposure. If you live in an apartment building that has common areas such as coffee rooms, reception areas, swimming pool, management office and elevators, you may need to away from these areas should there be a pandemic.
- At what point would you keep everyone at home? When would you skip work, have your partner stay home, and keep kids from school?
- Would you stay in your apartment or home, or leave and go to a safer, less populated location? Many city dwellers do not have a bug-out location, but do have family or friends outside of town who may be in a less crowded area. Now is the time to think about this, before anything happens.
- Are you prepared for a lock-down? You’ll need enough food and supplies for a couple of weeks without having to shopping. You won’t want to run out of toilet paper, prescriptions and other essentials if you are trying to avoid crowds and exposure.
- If someone at home were to get sick, do you have supplies to get you through? You would need sick room supplies such as protective clothing (gloves, protective goggles) lots of disinfectant such as bleach, antibacterial wipes, basic first aid supplies, etc.
I don’t have all the answers, but I hope this exercise gets you thinking and getting a few supplies just in case. If nothing happens, then we can all be relieved and grateful. Just like with any other disaster, if the dreaded event happens, it’s best to be prepared. See What to Do If you are Worried about Ebola
Apartment Prepper readers know I am not given to fear-mongering and I try to take a common sense approach to preparing for disasters. I pray the vaccine continues to be administered to more people. Hopefully, current measures are enough to contain this outbreak and it will burn out soon.
About the author:
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.