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We work for local and international aid groups responding to Ebola in West Africa. We're operating clinics, delivering protective gear, running education campaigns and more. Ask us anything.

Oct 2nd 2014 by GG_Will • 7 Questions • 2100 Points

update 4:11pm: We're wrapping this up! Thank you so much, redditors, for all your thoughtful questions today! We hope we've provided some good answers over the last five hours or so. Some of us may pop in later on to respond to more questions.

If you'd like to make a donation to support the Ebola relief work of any of the organizations participating today, here are links to do that:

Your support is greatly appreciated. And once more for good measure: Unlike Ebola, zombies are not real.

Hi reddit, we’re a collection of staff from local and international aid organizations working to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which according to yesterday's WHO situation report has resulted in 7,157 people being infected with the virus and 3,330 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. We’re here to answer your questions starting at 11 AM ET.

Here’s who we all are:

For information on the current status of the Ebola outbreak, visit the WHO's Global Alert and Response page.

And for redditors in the U.S. concerned about the recent announcement of the nation’s first Ebola diagnosis in Dallas this week, we’d like to share the White House’s tweet from yesterday morning.

We've submitted proof in advance to the very helpful mod team here at /r/IAmA and will be adding links to additional proof photos on Twitter as they're posted this morning.

Updated Twitter proof:

More Than Me, Internews, Imani House, GlobalGiving, Develop Africa

Update 12:25pm: We've also been joined by Marc Maxson (/u/marcmaxson) from GlobalGiving: http://i.imgur.com/cE1IENe.jpg

Now that all that's out of the way, ask us anything!

Q:

Get up to speed on the facts of Ebola (what the symptoms are, how it is spread, how to protect yourself, what to do if you or someone you know might be infected, etc.) so that you can both educate those around you and help point people in the right direction when you come across misinformation. The CDC is a good source for these details: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/

As an organization that focuses on empowering local media and facilitating effective 2 way communication with communities in crisis, we believe a key component in correcting misinformation and addressing fear is for people to hear the right information from a trusted source. We do this by working to empower local journalists and increasing access to information in situations such as this, but everyone can play a part. The more that people in every community are aware of the realities of Ebola (whether you are in Texas or Liberia), the better positioned we’ll be as an international community to combat it.

A:

The answers from Bisi and Britt are right on. For folks who are looking for other ways to get involved, volunteering with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's Ebola mapping project is very helpful.


Q:

Thank you, the only way to fight misinformation is to keep yourself informed from a variety of professional health organizations and ngo's that are on the ground in the infected areas.

A:

The answers from Bisi and Britt are right on. For folks who are looking for other ways to get involved, volunteering with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's Ebola mapping project is very helpful.


Q:

I'm a bit late to the AMA, but I have a question that I would really like an answer from, from you. Lately, I've been very nervous and have had full-fledged panic attacks because of fear for the Ebola virus, and although I'm psychologically stronger now, I still get nervous or scared every once in a while at the thought of the virus getting out of hand. Especially now since I've heard about what happened in Texas (and judging how close I live to Texas, in Mexico), is there something I should know, or any facts that could calm me down even more? (I still am careful, and have improved my hygiene thanks to this, but I want to relax more, and worry more about productive things in my life, and try and donate money, or help those in need). Anyways, thank you a lot, and I would also like to say that you are truly great people for taking these great risks, and I wish nothing more than luck and well being for all of you, and any who is helping stop this outbreak.

A:

Hi, I'm sorry to hear you're feeling such anxiety. You're not alone in feeling that way, and we answered some other folks earlier who are having similar experiences due to the outbreak. But if you're in Mexico, you aren't in any current danger of contracting Ebola. Here are some responses to a question earlier today from a fellow anxiety sufferer that may bring you some peace of mind:

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2i3cyg/we_work_for_local_and_international_aid_groups/ckyi55a

Hope this helps!


Q:

I just heard of an Ebola case in China, do you have any information on that?

A:

Nothing confirmed that I can find. Obviously there have been a lot of rumors swirling during this outbreak.

You can find reliable information on the outbreak on the World Health Organization's Global Alert and Response page. I can find nothing about cases in China there.


Q:

I keep hearing that Ebola can only be transferred through bodily fluids.

This is why aid workers are dressed in all that protective equipment. Because Ebola is transferred through bodily fluids, and a serious case of Ebola produces a lot of bodily fluids from the infected person. WebMD's list of symptoms provides a good synopsis of symptoms displayed by an Ebola patient early on and after the virus has progressed to a more serious stage. They (WebMD) include:

Bleeding inside the body, as well as from the eyes, ears, and nose. Some people will vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea, and get a rash.

Even the slightest exposure by an aid worker to the virus could lead to infection, so every precaution is taken to ensure that doesn't happen.

A:

It's because of how those fluids would have to get into your body. From WHO's Ebola FAQ:

Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.

You have mucous membranes in your mouth, nose, eyelids, windpipe, lungs and elsewhere. Access to those membranes needs to be covered up. And since infection can happen from contaminated environments, if you're in a high risk area, you want to be completely covered up.


Q:

Why do you think the CDC and gov't are allowing flights from Liberia to the USA during this outbreak?

Do you think this turn of events could be something like a Tuskagee type experiment gone wrong?

A:

I think they're allowing flights because Ebola isn't airborne, there are screening measures in place, and instituting travel bans could make the situation worse. When people fly, they're getting screened for symptoms - fever, etc. The patient diagnosed in Dallas was screened and was asymptomatic when he flew, which meant he could not infect fellow passengers.

People need to fly in and out for a lot reasons that will help stop the spread of Ebola -- aid workers are on rotations to keep them fresh, for example.


Q:

What animals carry the Ebola virus?

A:

Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/