It is usually recommended that all Ebola-infected persons should be admitted to an isolation unit in a healthcare facility. However, in some cases where medical help cannot reach the infected person fast, experts say that where the right precautions are taken, Ebola can be managed at home.
According to the experts, it is very important to to maximize the chances of the person’s survival, protect family members and break the transmission of the virus to others.
While waiting for an ambulance from the isolation centre to arrive, and thereby reduce infection of other family members, do the next (information gleaned from a document provided by the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC) in Lagos):
- The patient should be restricted to one room or area of the household and if possible the area should be roped off.
- The patient should be restricted to one toilet and bath. Other family members should not use it.
- If care must be given to the patient, one family member should be designated to provide the care while avoiding direct contact with the infected person.
- Waterproof gloves without holes, such as household heavy-duty rubber gloves, should be worn before entering the room and before touching any surfaces or the patient. Hands must be washed very well before and after entering the patient’s room. Avoid stepping on any fluids (such as vomit, urine, blood or diarrhea) of the patient.
- When giving care, it is advised that the caregiver must always stay behind the patient and avoid any direct contact with the patient’s clothes, beddings and other household items that the patient may have touched such as bowls, cups and plates.
- A mask or dry towel should be wrapped around the face to protect the mouth and nose when entering the patient’s room.
- If any cleaning must be done, caregivers must use diluted bleach solution, which must be made afresh every 24 hours as the solution loses its effectiveness within that time frame.
- Soiled towels and gloves must be soaked in a bucket filled with bleach solution for at least one hour before washing. After an hour, the towels can be washed with soap and re-used once they are dry. Never put bleach or its solution into the patient’s mouth or eyes. Use bleach-soaked towels for carrying or moving the patient.
- In the event of the patient’s death, it is highly recommended that the body should not be touched at all as it is highly infectious. The caregiver should notify health authorities to retrieve it.