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Answering the Question: Can I Contract Ebola From My Skin Care Products if They Are Manufactured in South Africa?
Yes, this is an actual question that I received from a client! Ebola has unfortunately become a daily topic in breaking news, everywhere, leaving many people with many questions. The spread of this deadly, infectious disease reportedly started in West Africa, with recent cases popping up in the U.S. and Europe, keeping everyone on high alert.
I was recently asked about Ebola in reference to skincare products manufactured in Africa. A majority of the skincare products carried in the US that are made in Africa and manufactured in South Africa, where there have been no reported cases of Ebola to-date. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the South African government has enforced strict rules for people coming into the country from any West African nation, while requiring those who are returning to undergo intensive medical tests.
Regardless of what country your products are being manufactured in, it is important to be sure that your products are being made in a secure lab, using safe ingredients. Skin care labs have very strict rules and cleanliness standards. Formulators are required to wear protective clothing and wash their hands to keep the environment clean and ensure that the products being made are safe for consumers.
So, to answer the question:
- Yes, it is my opinion that it is currently safe to use products that are made in South Africa.
- Of course, it is important to stay informed about the spread of Ebola in an effort to keep track of where it could be in the world.
- Although people are not considered contagious until they start to show symptoms, they do have a possible incubation period of 2-21 days, making it essential to exercise caution.
- Remember, all of the new cases that have sprouted up outside of West Africa have been reported on the news with frequent updates, and the CDC has done their best in contacting and monitoring those who have been exposed and disposing of any possibly infectious material.
Symptoms & Facts
Lets clear the myths, here are the facts, simply stated... According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention , the common symptoms of Ebola are:
- a fever greater than 101 ̊F
- severe headaches
- muscle pain
- abdominal pain
- and unexplained hemorrhaging (bleeding or bruising)
Ebola is spread through direct contact such as:
- broken skin
- mucous membranes in or around the eyes
- and nose by way of blood or other bodily fluids
- or shared objects such as needles or syringes
Ebola is not spread through:
Although the risk of contracting Ebola is very low, it is important to keep up basic hygiene in an effort to protect yourself. Keep cuts and open wounds clean and medicated for quick healing, and do not knowingly put yourself in physical contact with someone who has had Ebola, has had close contact with someone who has/had Ebola, or a hospital where someone is being treated.
The Truth About Ebola and How it is Spread
The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa is the largest in history, which has caused huge concern worldwide. While the fatality rate for the virus can be as high as 90%, the current death rate is reported at 60%. Those who have survived the virus were those who sought out and received medical assistance immediately after the onset of symptoms.
A huge concern with Ebola is that the initial symptoms can seem like other viruses. These symptoms (listed above) are common with other viruses, including:
- & more
Because of this, it is important to seek medical attention immediately if you have recently come into contact with someone infected with Ebola virus, or someone who cared for someone with Ebola virus. If you are traveling from a country where Ebola is currently an issue, be sure to notify your health care professional before embarking to the hospital.
A comforting piece of information is that Ebola can only be spread through close contact. The virus is not airborne. Rather, people need to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. These bodily fluids include:
- and sweat
Which makes catching it in a public setting rather unlikely. Ebola can also be transmitted through medical equipment that has not been properly disposed of or sterilized, such as syringes. The last, and less discussed means of contracting Ebola virus is through touching infected animals, their bodily fluid, or their meat. It is important to note that Ebola virus is neither food-borne, nor water-borne.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about Ebola virus. One of the biggest ones being that going to the hospital may put you at risk. While this may be true if you come into close contact with someone who is infected and showing symptoms of Ebola virus, most US hospitals that properly follow CDC regulations are adequately prepared to handle, isolate, and care for someone infected with Ebola virus. My rule of thumb for emergency room visits
Traveling Safely: How to Not Contract Ebola or Any Illness When You Travel
The truth is, many of us need to travel. Be it for business or personal reasons, getting on an airplane, train, or bus may become necessary at some point during this outbreak, which is why I want to discuss some of the tips I have read about in regards to avoiding Ebola virus. Please note that these tips are also a great way to avoid other viruses that may be spread during travel!
- Rest assured that the US Department of Transportation takes Ebola very seriously. Airlines are permitted the right to deny boarding to air travelers who exemplify any symptoms of a serious contagious disease that could spread during the flight.
- Treat all bodily fluids as if they are infectious. When it comes to your health, or the health of your loved ones, it is best not to take any chances.
- If you notice someone becoming ill on your flight, bus, or train, be sure to notify a staff member immediately. This will allow them to take action in an effort to avoid any possible transmission.
- Step up your hygiene game. Wash your hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, and run under warm/hot water. If your arms have been exposed, wash up the length of your arms as well. Use a paper towel to turn off any sink fixtures or open any door handles if possible. If hand washing is not an option at the moment, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. A great mom tip for little ones: I have taught my son to sing the "Happy Birthday" song while he washes his hands. It is about 20 seconds long and gives him a fun way to remember how long to wash his hands for. Also, I always tell my son "make big bubbles with your hands." He loves this part. Don't forget to get the tops of your hands too!
- If someone on your flight, bus, or train does become ill, keep as much distance as you can while remaining calm. Remember, Ebola is not spread through the air like the flu.
- Limit non-essential travel to/from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
- Teaching Kids - my son is 4 and I am teaching him all about germs and why we have to be careful when we cough and sneeze (use your elbow), and why it is important to wash hands before we eat, or use our foot to flush those public bathrooms ;) (he loves this one!).
- When its time to reach for the hand-sanitizer, I like to sing "Hand Sani" to the "Hot Pockets" jingle - you know the Jim Gaffigan bit "H-O-T P-O-C-K-E-T-S."
- You can also go with a more natural hand-sanitizing approach with essential oils, which can help boost the immune system. I use a blend of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary to make my own version of hand-sanitizer. I use essential oils, to boost or support healthy immune function, and hand-sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap to prevent getting sick.
- Nurse Tip - a good friend who worked in a hospital for years told me to always use my elbow instead of my hands for elevator buttons, light switches, or any other public surface, and to wash my hands first thing when returning home. This is something I follow strictly, and try to teach my son to follow as well!