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!

Comments: 510 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

Elissel140 karma

What is one thing that each of us can do today, to help spread awareness, correct misinformation and help with response efforts?

GG_Britt66 karma

Thanks for your question! Educating yourself about what's going on and what nonprofits are doing good work on the ground is the first step. If you feel passionate about spreading awareness and correcting misinformation, supporting a group like Internews would be a great first step. See what they're doing here: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/internews-west-africa/

GG_Britt21 karma

somesignifier13 karma

Thanks - this is interesting! What is confusing though is that this CDC link on prevention advises avoiding hospitals pwhere Ebola patients are being treated.

The Guardian article quotes a local:

"Mara, a resident of Moty N’Zérékoré, said she had heard the programme, which addressed widespread fears that going to the hospital – for any reason – was unsafe.“I thought what people were saying was true. But the explanations of the chief doctor of the clinic allowed me to understand hospitals are not the source of the risk,” Mara said."

Can anyone clarify the apparent contradiction?

GG_Will25 karma

I think that travel advisory is saying that if you are traveling, and assuming you aren't sick, and you know that a hospital is treating Ebola patients, going into one is not recommended.

somesignifier6 karma

Thanks for the reply! So CDC prevention advisory, besides travel, does also say if you are in an area affected by Ebola.

I understand the advice for a foreign traveller with no symptoms. Regardless of how the disease is transmitted, avoidance of Ebola treatment acts as a risk minimisation strategy both to prevent transmission to an individual and to avoid spread overseas.

But, in term of consistent health information about preventing virus transmission, what if you are a local?

In the Guardian article the lady quoted explained reassurance from a doctor that increased risk of infection from getting checked out at the hospital is a rumour and misinformation.

This seems especially relevant if the virus was in early stages and not obviously ebola - you wouldn't want to catch it at the hospital if you turned out to have the flu. I hope to understand more about how the virus is known to actually transmit, and the fears in these communities that you guys are on the ground working with. Emily was saying hospitals have been overwhelmed and the environment can make infection control difficult. Appreciate a domino effect is likely in place and you guys are working to change it.

GG_Will14 karma

I think the important thing to remember is that people with Ebola are most infectious at the latest stages of the disease (and very sadly, after death). People who are infected but in early stages are much less likely to transmit the disease to others because the amount of the virus in their blood and bodily fluids is lower.

It's key for people who think they may be infected with Ebola to seek medical attention right away. Since there's no cure yet, it's through supportive care (reducing the fever, keeping the patient well-hydrated, etc) that people are most likely to survive their infection.

GG_Will7 karma

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.

GG_Will5 karma

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.

RandomWomanNo218 karma

So, maybe this is stupid, but I am an American in the midwest with a severe anxiety disorder and I have been sent into a complete spiral of fear. The comments on Reddit have ranged from "I'm an expert, everybody calm down" to "I'm an expert, and nobody is taking this seriously enough." Rumors are flying all over the place and a lot of them are terrifying. How scared should I really be? Because right now all I can do is cry and hide in my house.

GG_Will13 karma

That's not stupid at all! A lot of media coverage lately has been really alarmist, and I'm sorry to hear you're feeling so much anxiety.

Here's the truth as I see it: both of those statements are true, but in different contexts that are important to take into account.

When it comes to the possibility of a widespread outbreak of Ebola in the United States or other developed nations, you should listen to someone who's saying "I'm an expert, everybody calm down" for a few reasons. We have healthcare infrastructure that is absolutely not present in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. And while Ebola is highly infectious, it is not highly contagious. I feel like sometimes those words get used interchangeably, but it's different. Ebola can only be spread by human-to-human exchange of bodily fluids, not through the air or water.

But when talking about the state of the outbreak in West Africa, someone saying, "I'm an expert, and nobody is taking this seriously enough" is correct. This is the worst Ebola outbreak in history, far too many people have died already and 39% of all cases have been reported in the past 21 days. The international and local government response is picking up now, but was clearly not fast enough.

So, yes, it's serious, and we should all be concerned about it, and doing whatever's in our power to stop the spread. But please, do not be scared!

curlmonkey12 karma

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

GG_Will8 karma

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.

OnionsmAng4 karma

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.

GG_Will3 karma

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:


Hope this helps!

simpleone2343 karma

I keep hearing in the news that Ebola can only be transferred through bodily fluids. Why do the relief workers wear full body Hazmat suits with respirators around Ebola?

GG_Will6 karma

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.

SqoishMaloish3 karma

What animals carry the Ebola virus?

GG_Will4 karma

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/

coniform2 karma


GG_Will2 karma

I'll let others speak to how SARS has impacted their work, but I found this video out today on the parallels between SARS and Ebola (relevant bit starts at 4:50 or so) http://www.businessweek.com/videos/2014-10-02/ebola-virus-stirs-travel-lessons-learned-from-sars

Orangutan2 karma

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?

GG_Will2 karma

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.

GG_Will2 karma

To your second question: No, I do not.

thatoldguyfromup0 karma

What's the deal with them zombies?

GG_Will5 karma

I actually saw a question like this recently in /r/ebola, which was surprising. But, yeah, the deal with zombies is that they're fictional. I even checked the latest WHO situation report: http://i.imgur.com/8tBtYbE.png