Ebola prevention and survival: Tips on Being A Smarter Monkey
While every communicable disease has it's own nasty characteristics that require a wide variety of treatments in the specialized setting, fretting over details doesn't really help people stuck with America's most popular health insurance policy for lower income families, also known as the 'Don't Get Sick Plan'. The result of having an overpriced health industry focused more on boner pills rather than vaccines is that people don't seek treatment as soon as they should and will likely keep spreading their disease around for as long as they are able to zombie-shuffle down to the corner store for some snack cakes and cigarettes.
Pandemic Preparedness: Ebola Edition
Regardless of what happens with Ebola, the next superbug will inevitably come and when it does the people who trust in the wonders of modern medicine will find themselves severely disappointed. The reports from Liberia may not be concerning at first glance, but consider there growing list of bankrupt cities inside the United States that eerily resemble third world countries and suddenly things don't seem so cushy and contained. Healthcare in this country is considered a privilege and chances are you are constantly swapping germs with people who don't have access to it.
There is a sliver of hope, and ironically enough it comes from gorillas. Monkeys and bats are the highest on the list of cross-species vectors for Ebola since African hunters make up a larger percentage of the first recorded cases. After studying the spread of the disease through gorilla populations for the past decade, scientists discovered that the primates had found a way to survive the pandemic in recoverable numbers.
What was their secret? Completely change their social dynamics. During an outbreak they basically gave up their traditional family arrangements, some of them even choosing a solitary life, until the disease burned itself out. This was no walk in the park, however. Some researchers estimate that Ebola has knocked out about one third of the gorillas on earth over the last 30 years. Combined with hunting and deforestation it's safe to say the past few decades have not been kind to gorillas, but when looking for survival advice it's usually prudent to consult those with the most experience in confronting overwhelming odds.
So let's pick some lice and get down to business. If you haven't secured at least a month of food and water ready then take care of that pronto. In an epidemic situation populations could be forced to shelter-in-place but most likely you won't want to go cruising around anyway lest you get sneezed on. Beyond that having some protective gear like a N95 face mask, nitrile gloves, and some sort of eye protection can give you a little piece of mind while trying to figure out if your significant other has either their usual allergies or something much much worse.
If someone in your household is suspect then you need to construct a quarrantine room and observe isolation/decontamination protocols until their status can be determined. You'll need to seal up the room with duct tape and plastic, making considerations for fresh air and acceptable ambient temperatures in a way that doesn't ventilate near your living space or anywhere else near people. This might be a tough sell for the detainee as the denial courses through their deteriorating veins, so be ready for some resistance. In any case it's not a good idea to shack up with someone who you can't control, won't listen to reason, or can't stand the smell of burning feces. That's right. Everything that comes out of the quarantine room that can't be bleached gets set on fire, so don't waste all the gas in your car driving around looking for hospital beds and cures that don't exist. Gasoline will be much more valuable as an accelerant for those trash bags full of blood-stained linens and human filth.
Speaking of monkeys, the biggest challenge you'll have is keeping the patent hydrated. Bananas, coconut water, sugar, salt, and whatever kind of electrolytes will be needed in an abundant supply along with the water you will be forcing down their gullet. Ebola doesn't just kill you by making you bleed out of every orifice and shutting down your filter organs. Their immune system will be so trashed that it's just as important to keep secondary infections from getting into quarantine as it is keeping the Ebola from getting out.
With a 50%-90% mortality rate there's always the unpleasant possibility that at some point the resources you are expending will become more important than prolonging the suffering of your patient, so depending on your religious sensibilities it may be practical to have some convenient and preferably tidy way for them to check themselves out. If that's a consideration then definitely consult a lawyer about your local statues. Depending on the state of civilization after this type of event you may have to answer to anything from a fully-functioning legal system to a barn full of screaming religious fanatics armed with all manner of medieval confession-extraction devices. Some sort of non-infrastructure dependent communications system such as a HAM radio or DIY internet arrangement could prove highly valuable to keep track of important details like which of the local warlords has gained a decided advantage.
The best piece of advice comes from our sivler-backed fuzzy jungle brothers, of course. When you hear that there are confirmed Ebola cases in your area, it's probable that the infected have used their first three symptom-free weeks to go to work, ride public transportation, have sex, and spread the disease to as many people as possible. Like the noble cockroach making it's evening appearance in your kitchen cabinet, seeing one means there could be hundreds nearby. It's time to go gorilla and change your habits immediately.
Avoid public places, take a raincheck on social gatherings, prepare all your own food (burnt to a crisp), ask your boss for a little time off for a stay-cation, and quietly gather what items you might need for the long haul. Hermit beards and hairy legs to avoid shaving cuts are optional. Hand washing is not, especially after touching things other people have touched. People will question your social awkwardness, but if a few weeks pass without new cases popping up regularly then slowly re-integrate yourself into society and laugh about the experience over a beer with your friends. As always, when the newscasters start saying to not panic and that everything is under control then it's time to bar the door, load your mags, and start cracking those novels you never got around to reading. It's going to be a long next few months.