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Excessive Precautions Unnecessary for Ebola Virus

Virus is transmitted via direct and indirect contact; respiratory protection unnecessary

FRIDAY, Sept. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Given that Ebola virus is mainly transmitted via contact, excessive precautions, including complete respiratory protection are unnecessary, according to a letter published online Aug. 29 in The Lancet.

Jose M. Martin-Moreno, M.D., Ph.D., Dr.P.H., from the University of Valencia in Spain, and colleagues looked at the potential use of excessive precautions in response to Ebola. Noting that the primary mode of transmission of Ebola virus is through direct and indirect contact with infected patients' secretions, and that transmission is rarely via an airborne route, the authors questioned the need for complete respiratory protection.

The researchers contend that systematic application of precautionary measures to protect from direct contact are sufficient for management of most patients (who do not experience hemorrhage or vomiting). Goggles and masks may be unnecessary for speaking to conscious patients if a minimum distance of one to two meters is maintained. Exceptional precautions should be reserved for interventions that generate aerosols or for use in laboratories where the virus is cultured. In most settings where the virus is rampant, they are unnecessary. Rational and efficient use of protective equipment is needed in western African, and this can be achieved by communication of a consistent message that disease transmission is via direct contact.

"In control of infectious diseases, more is not necessarily better and, very often, the simplest answer is the best," the authors write.

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