Saturday, October 04, 2014

More Dallas Ebola response fun

The tweet above claims to show the sidewalk being cleaned outside the Ebola patient's Dallas apartment. As I mentioned before, he had vomited there after showing symptoms of infection but being discharged from the hospital with antibiotics.

Two men are power-spraying the sidewalk. They are not wearing any protective gear, and a passerby is in shot, apparently unaware what they are doing. I've used a power-washer - it kicks up a fine spray inches and probably feet into the air. I can't think of a better way to aerosolize an infectious liquid.

For what it's worth, Ebola is hard to catch, in the sense that it is not very contagious. Since you have to touch the liquids from the body of an infected person, it usually requires you to touch his or her body or belongings. On average, one Ebola-carrying person will infect two others. For something like Measles or Mumps, one carrier can infect ten or more people, so these spread very rapidly compared to Ebola.

Ebola is, however, very infectious, which is different. For some viruses to "take" inside your body, you have to breathe in, or get in a skin cut, thousands of viral particles. For Ebola, one to ten viral particles is sufficient to give you the disease.

So a not-very-good thing to do with virus-containing body fluid is blow it up into the air in a fine spray.

I'm not an Ebola expert, but generally speaking, if you have to do a clean up of something like infected vomitus, put a spill boom around it, cloth on top of it and flood it with 10% household bleach solution. Leave it there for ten to twenty minutes and then soak it into cloths or use a spill-kit, Put all the material into biohazard bags and have a properly licensed* hazardous waste contractor haul it away for incineration. Remember to wear full protective clothing.  Here are full details from the CDC ( see in particular 5n and 5o) and it's a good idea to read them before you try it at home. Remember household bleach loses potency over a few months and diluted household bleach loses potency over a few days.

*The clean up crew who worked on the Dallas patient's apartment interior did not have all the permits needed. To be fair to them, it's quite likely the permits needed had not been invented yet. I really don't think anyone expected Ebola to happen!

Oh, and as I said before, best do this before dogs eat it. Endemic Ebola is not a good idea.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
I sometimes mention a product on this blog, and I give a URL to Amazon or similar sites. Just to reassure you, I don't get paid to advertise anything here and I don't get any money from your clicks. Everything I say here is because I feel like saying it.