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5 Things You Need to Know About the Ebola Outbreak

Written on August 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm , by

As Ebola cases in Central and West Africa continue to climb, so do the fatalities. There are now two infected Americans in the U.S.—the second arrived in Atlanta today—and they’re receiving potential treatment: a serum that hasn’t even been approved for human use yet. But it sounds promising. So far, the patients’ conditions have improved, and we can only hope the serum becomes an effective (and approved) treatment in battling the disease. In the meantime, here are some things you should know about Ebola:

1. It is deadly. There’s currently no vaccine or treatment for Ebola, and fatality rates can reach 90 percent, according to World Health Organization. As of yesterday, there are 1,603 (suspected and confirmed) Ebola cases, and there have been 887 deaths as of Friday.

2. It only spreads through direct contact with infected bodily fluids (or contact with objects, like needles, that have touched infected fluids), meaning that the chance of the virus spreading throughout the U.S. is very slim.

3. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain and rashes.

4. Planning on traveling to West Africa anytime soon? Don’t. The CDC issued a warning for Americans on Thursday to steer clear of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the virus is currently most prevalent (check out this map). There are currently several CDC staffers in West Africa working to stifle the outbreak, and the organization plans to send an additional 50 workers within the next month.

5. For you New York City folks: That man who came back from West Africa and was tested for Ebola at Mount Sinai Hospital Sunday? Doctors say he’s most likely uninfected. However, a woman in Columbus, Ohio is also being tested for the virus, as she recently traveled to West Africa. Fingers crossed that those suspected to have the disease are just false alarms, and that doctors soon find a treatment that will banish the nearly 2,000 Ebola cases we’ve seen so far.

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5 Tips To Fend Off The Flu

Written on January 22, 2013 at 9:45 am , by

Bacteria, beware! Practice good personal, household and food hygiene with EPA disinfectant products to prevent catching the virus. (Photo courtesy of Ben Northover)

“The flu” has turned into quite the buzzword lately with reports of a record high season and shot shortages. A few of our favorite stars even spoke of feeling under the weather last week at the Golden Globes while others were sidelined from the event altogether. “Meryl Streep is not here tonight,” funny gal Amy Poehler announced. “She has the flu—and I hear she’s amazing in it.”

The epidemic is no laughing matter though with new cases of the widespread illness popping up every day across 47 states. We spoke with Dr. Phillip M. Tierno, Jr., New York University’s Director of Clinical Macrobiology and Diagnostic Immunology, about the virus and the most common germ-infested areas. Don’t stock up on soup and tissues just yet! Here’s all you need to know about battling the bug:

  1. Inject immunity—if you haven’t already. “A flu shot is probably one of the best things you can do to offset getting sick,” said Dr. Tierno, especially since up to 60 million people will get the flu annually, depending on vaccines! Find a vaccine near you with the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
  2. Break the chain of transmission. According to Dr. Tierno, 80% of all infections are spread through contact—both direct (sharing a spoon with a sickie) and indirect (pressing an infected elevator button then rubbing your eye). Since viruses can live on surfaces for months, it is crucial to keep commonly touched spots sanitary. Think outside your typical “wash your hands before you eat” type of cleanliness in terms of personal hygiene. For example, keep clean and dirty clothing in separate baskets. Germs from dirty clothes can transfer onto freshly washed laundry—ew, gross! Read more