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Are you prepared for an Ebola virus outbreak?

Should you prepare for an Ebola virus outbreak?
Should you prepare for an Ebola virus outbreak?
Centers for Disease Control/Wikimedia Commons

The Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever outbreak in West Africa continues to grow and has health officials scrambling to contain it. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of August 6, the numbers stood at 1,711 suspected and confirmed cases, 932 deaths, and 1,070 laboratory confirmed cases.

Preparedness

If you are concerned about an Ebola virus outbreak in the United States, rest assured that U.S. hospitals are prepared to handle it. Hospitals that followed CDC recommended guidelines for containment and isolation, will be well-equipped to handle Ebola patients if the virus should occur in the U.S.

However, as with any emergency -- natural or manmade -- it is wise and prudent to plan ahead and prepare your own family for the "what if..." scenario.

How can you plan ahead and prepare for an Ebola virus outbreak?

Planning strategies for Ebola are the same for any type of epidemic or pandemic: Be smart, make a plan, talk to your family, gather supplies.

To prevent Ebola virus, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with blood or bodily secretions from an infected victim. The CDC recommends barrier protection to health care workers. Since it is unknown exactly how Ebola virus starts, some common sense practices can help reduce risks.

Isolation is one of the best practices for preventing the transmission of Ebola virus. Infected persons are isolated during treatment. How does that translate to preparing your family? It means that in the event of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., be prepared to isolate your family for a time to avoid contracting Ebola.

That's where the recommendations to have food, water, medicines, and other supplies on hand. If you need to isolate your family, that means you won't be going to the store every couple of days for an item you run out of or forgot to buy previously. It means you will be staying home for an extended period to keep your family safe.

Plan ahead for such an event by stocking up on necessary items: Food, water, medicines, hygiene items, diapers, pet supplies, gloves, masks. Have enough supplies to last your family for two weeks.

The chances of there being an Ebola outbreak in the United States are slim, but planning ahead for the "just in case" is always wise. We plan ahead for other disasters -- earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, influenza, and other scenarios -- so being prepared in case Ebola becomes a concern in our neighborhoods is wise.

Remember, if you are properly prepared for one disaster, you should be ready for any other that could occur. So preparing for Ebola is the same as preparing for pandemic influenza, or anything else. Be wise, be prepared.

Leave a comment below or send an email to Emergency Preparedness Examiner Tammy Lee Morris at tammyleemorris@gmail.com