No vaccine against the Ebola virus disease has yet been approved by any disease control agency. Several vaccines are currently being tested but none are yet available for clinical use.
What preventive measures can be taken to reduce the risk of catching the Ebola virus?
In areas outside the epidemic hot zone, such as Spain, no special hygiene and prevention measures are advised except avoiding direct contact with the bodily fluids and secretions of infected patients or animals.
Inside epidemic hot zones, such as the three affected countries in West Africa (Guinea-Conakry, Liberia and Sierra Leone), the following guidelines are being recommended:
- Meticulously practise good personal hygiene
- Avoid contact with blood or bodily fluids
- Do not touch objects that may have been in contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person
- Avoid burial rituals and funeral customs that require touching the body of someone who may have died from the Ebola virus disease
- Avoid contact with bats and non-human primates or with the blood, bodily fluids or raw meat prepared from these animals
- Avoid going to those hospitals where patients with the Ebola virus disease are being treated
Upon your return from such areas, monitor your health for 21 days and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms of the Ebola virus disease appear.
Healthcare workers who may be exposed to people with the Ebola virus disease should take the following steps:
- Wear protective clothing (such as masks, gloves and goggles)
- Implement proper infection control and sterilisation measures
- Isolate sick patients from other patients
- Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from the disease
- Notify the appropriate healthcare personnel if you have come into direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids (such as faeces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of infected patients
- For more information, please see the Action Protocol in Suspected Cases of Ebola Virus Disease.
In order to properly prevent the spread of this disease, the network of contacts between a patient infected with the Ebola virus and other people must be traced. Identified contacts will be monitored for 21 days from the last day on which they came into contact with the sick person. If the contact presents a fever or any other symptom of the disease, they will be quarantined, diagnosed and treated. The cycle of contact monitoring starts again from this new patient.
This process is crucial in areas affected by outbreaks of the Ebola virus and proper inter-governmental cooperation is essential for minimising the risk of widespread contagion.