The Ebola virus is NOT highly infectious. As regards the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, the risk to the people of Spain is VERY LOW.
The virus is spread through the mucous membranes or broken skin via direct contact with:
- Blood, secretions or other bodily fluids, or tissue or organs from an infected person (alive or dead). Blood, faeces and vomit are the bodily fluids and secretions posing the greatest risk of contagion.
- Objects contaminated with bodily fluids from patients.
- Organs, blood, secretions or other bodily fluids from infected animals (alive or dead). There have been cases documented in Africa of infection associated with handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, antelope and porcupines that were found dead or sick in the jungle. There is no scientific evidence to show that other non-mammal species, such as mosquitoes, can transmit Ebola.
Transmission through sexual contact: The Ebola virus has been isolated from semen for up to 61 days following appearance of the disease, meaning that contagion may occur from the moment symptoms of the disease are present up to several weeks after clinical recovery (the WHO recommends abstaining from sexual relations or using protection for three months after recovery).
“Survival” of the virus:
The Ebola virus can survive in fluids or on solid surfaces for several days. It can be deactivated in any of the following ways:
- Application of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or other disinfectants, such as hydrogen peroxide or Virkon
- Application of ultraviolet or gamma radiation
- Heating to a temperature of 60ºC for 30 minutes
- Boiling for five minutes
Freezing and refrigeration do NOT deactivate the virus.
Can you catch Ebola in public places?
The risk of becoming infected in public places (public transport, aeroplanes, hospitals, trains, restaurants, bathrooms, etc.) is VERY LOW or NON-EXISTENT.
The risk of contagion from being in a public place at the same time as people infected with the Ebola virus is highly unlikely and there would only be a risk if those people were bleeding, vomiting, etc. and you came into direct contact with such secretions.
In the case of travelling in an aircraft with someone who is affected, only those passengers who were in the closest seats are considered to have come into contact with the disease and even they are considered to be at a low risk.
Nonetheless, if you come into contact with someone presenting symptoms of the disease, you should contact the 112 emergency services immediately.