Here’s a question: How do we know exactly when a virus like Ebola becomes infectious to others?

Mudassir Ali
Mar 10, 2020 06:21 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Mar 10, 2020 06:21 PM

It would be fantastic if, right now, the people who are being monitored for exposure are having some kind of lab tests done to observe what might be happening in the early stages of infection. That would give valuable information, maybe even information that would help in coming up with treatments or post-exposure prophylaxis. A lot of the past outbreaks of Ebola have been studied and epidemiologists interviewed people to determine exposures and risk of infection. One thing they found in Kikwit was that many family members were exposed to a sick person by being in the same room, but without direct physical contact, and they appeared to have zero risk of infection. Having a conversation with the sick person with no physical contact appeared to have zero risk of infection. Touching the person, sharing a bed, or caring for them while they were in the early stages of infection did carry a risk. The highest risk was for people who cared for the person when they were very sick and who definitely recalled contact with the patient’s body fluids (and people who touched the body after death). This included both family members and health care workers who cared for the sick person either without PPE or with inadequate PPE. They also asked family members about contact in the weeks before their Ebola-stricken family member got sick. Being in the same room, sharing a bed, touching, and sharing food from the same plate but before the patient developed symptoms was also associated with zero risk if, once the patient became ill, there was no further physical contact.

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