Five Fast Facts About Ebola Virus

Ebola Virus on a Red background

Ebola Virus on a Red background

 

Between the global SARS outbreak in 2009 and the global coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there was a severe ebola virus outbreak that began in West Africa and spread to the United States.

In September 2014, a man left his native Liberia and returned to Texas. When he developed Ebola symptoms, like diarrhea and vomiting, he went to a local emergency room, but the medical staff sent him home. The man died a few days later. At roughly the same time, two healthcare workers who treated the man were diagnosed with ebola. They both recovered, as did a person in New York and a person in Georgia who were both exposed to the virus.

Medically, ebola is an incredibly contagious disease that has about a 50 percent fatality rate. Fortunately, ebola isn’t an airborne virus. Contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person is the only way it spreads.

As the 2014 Texas outbreak demonstrates, negligence often plays a part in the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola. Liberia, a West African country, was almost at the center of a serious Ebola outbreak when the man saw a Texas doctor. Yet no one at the hospital connected the dots or even asked the man about his recent travel.

If a lack of care substantially causes injury, a New York personal injury attorney can obtain the financial compensation these victims need and deserve.

Ebola Virus Background and Update

The first Ebola outbreak was in Sudan in 1976. It began at a cotton factory in Nzara, a village which is in South Sudan today. Specifically, researchers connected this outbreak to bats which lived in the cotton factory. Subsequent tests revealed that the bats carried the virus but didn’t show any illness symptoms. This outbreak infected 284 people. 151 of these victims died.

Two Ebola sub variants, EBOV and SUDV, infected 318 people in Zaire a few months later, Almost all of these people died. This virus got its name from the Ebola River in Zaire.

After that, the virus was largely dormant until the late 1990s. The virus kept spreading, and by 2014, it had sickened over 28,000 people. Roughly 11,000 of these victims died. Despite efforts to contain it, the virus keeps spreading. Most recently, in the spring of 2022, an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the modern name for Zaire) killed five people.

Hazard Recognition

If a worker shows Ebola symptoms, the standard of care requires employers to perform a hazard assessment. This test considers potential sources of such exposures, jobs and job tasks which may result in worker exposure, and the risks and routes of exposure associated with those jobs or job tasks.

In other words, employers have a proactive duty to quickly contain Ebola infections. They cannot wait until the infected person gets seriously ill.

The most at-risk individuals include aircraft cabin crewmembers and servicing and cargo employees, laboratory workers, mortuary and death care workers, healthcare workers or family members caring for sick individuals, individuals involved in border protection, customs, and quarantine operations, emergency responders, and other workers in other critical sectors may come into contact with sick individuals or their body fluids.

Medical Information About Ebola Virus

During the 2014 outbreak in the United States, a number of self-published books appeared that spread misinformation and fear about Ebola. It’s important to know the facts.

Individuals who may have come into contact with the Ebola virus may be quarantined at the discretion of public health officials. Isolation to prevent transmission is effective.

Healthcare providers have a variety of tools at their disposal to test for Ebola infection, such as blood tests that can detect antibodies to the Ebola virus. They may even detect the RNA of the virus itself.

Currently, there is no antiviral therapy, treatment, or cure for Ebola. That being said, some experimental vaccines and pharmaceutical products have been used to combat recent Ebola outbreaks. In the meantime, supportive hospital care for patients with Ebola includes maintaining stable blood pressure as well as fluid and blood replacement. Fluid loss is usually the specific cause of death in Ebola cases.

Important Worker Rights

The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions. Additionally, OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the provisions of more than twenty industry specific federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns about hazards or violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws.

Any employee can file an OSHA complaint by visiting or calling his or her local OSHA office, sending a written complaint via fax, mail, or email to the closest OSHA office, or filing a complaint online.

Prevention and Control

Under federal law, employers must follow a hierarchy of controls, implementing engineering controls first, followed by administrative and work practice controls. Some examples of controls for protecting employees from Ebola include specially-ventilated airborne isolation rooms, plastic sheets or other physical barriers, and comprehensive sanitation and decontamination. When there is a significant risk of exposure, all of these types of controls may be needed to protect workers.

For more information about worker safety issues, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. We handle these cases on a nationwide basis and only recover a fee when we win your case.