The number of infected people in west Africa is doubling every 20 days. At that rate there could be a million people infected by early next year. With an incubation period of up to 3 weeks means people can travel around the world before symptoms show that they are carriers. West Africa is an area with cocoa plantations and oil productions. Workers for those activities travel to and from other areas of Africa and around the world. It seems likely that more and more cases of Ebola will be found in the US.
Work is being done to find a vaccine or viral treatment but so far there isn't any proven method of treatment. The present treatment is of the symptoms, not the the disease. The patient is kept hydrated to make up for the loss of fluids and wait for the patient's own immune system to fight off the virus. Currently hospitals are only capable of handling one or two total isolation patients at a time. It would take time to set up large scale isolation facilities.
Consequently, it is likely that many people will have to rely on home care of infected patients. Like in the hospitals, it is important to try to prevent the spread of the virus to anyone else. In the hospitals, this is done with medical isolation rooms and head to toe gowns. In the home, the best substitute would be garbage bags and rubber gloves for the caregiver. Having surplus food stores on hand is good for any emergency, but especially one that requires complete isolation. The patient would be kept hydrated with a sugary, salt water solution like Gatorade. Since the patient will be vomiting, the solution would have to be dripped into the mouth slowly so the tissues can absorb it directly. Again this is to give the patients own immune system time to combat the virus. With this system, it is hoped that the caregiver doesn't become the next patient and the death rate can be lowered from the present 50-80%.
Even if the Ebola virus is stopped now, there are other virus and antibiotic resistant bacterial infections like TB that need to be dealt with. So that means we may need to change our behavior to protect ourselves. In Africa it has been observed that people are not getting as close to strangers in public places like buses. In schools they are screening kids for fevers with non-contact thermometers and sending them home if with fever. The practice of shaking hands may need to be reduced. And like my mom always said when I walked in the door, WASH YOUR HANDS.
Here are a couple of articles regarding Ebola, our current health system, and how it may be most effective/necessary to deal with Ebola in small, community minded ways if it we were to experience full pandemic. The Alger Community Hall plans to have documents regarding what to do in case of the Ebola virus makes it to this area. They also plan to have extra supplies of rubber gloves and plastic bags on hand.
Also here is a link to Flu.gov and their Community Planning and Preparedness Check List.
By Chris Soler