Ebola Virus Disease
There are no cases of Ebola in Fairfax County and the risk of Ebola spreading widely in the United States is low. However, members of our community understandably have questions and concerns regarding this disease.
- Even though there have been confirmed cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, an outbreak of Ebola—like the one currently occurring in West Africa—is highly unlikely in the United States because the two main factors fueling the epidemic in West Africa are not present in the United States: (1) a lack of infection control practices (a public health system); and (2) African burial rituals, such as washing the body of the deceased.
- To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the United States has a public health system that on a daily basis rapidly identifies/isolates people suspected of being sick and finds/contacts people who have been potentially exposed to the sick person.
- Ebola is not spread through casual contact. Coming into contact with people who do not have symptoms of Ebola poses no risk, even if they have recently traveled to affected countries in Africa. Only people who have symptoms of Ebola, such as fever, can spread the disease. Transmission requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.
- The Health Department and its regional partners, including hospitals, have been preparing for Ebola for many months. Added layers of protection, such as post-arrival active monitoring of travelers, have been implemented as precautions.
Educate Yourself About Ebola
What Can You Do?
Many people in our community are wondering what they can do to protect themselves from Ebola. While the Health Department’s planning efforts have been extensive, the general population’s risk of being exposed to Ebola in the U.S. remains extremely low.
Although the following recommendations won’t necessarily prevent Ebola, they are prudent steps that all of us can take to improve overall community health and to prevent the spread of many types of disease:
- Educate yourself about Ebola. The facts will help reduce anxiety over this scary disease. All of the information you need is available on this web page, which includes links to the CDC’s website.
- Get a flu vaccine, if you haven’t already received one. While the vaccine will not protect you from Ebola, keep in mind that it’s flu season. Each year there are about 200,000 hospitalizations and up to 36,000 flu-related deaths. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from the flu.
- Wash your hands frequently and correctly with soap and water. This will guard against all types of infectious diseases, including Ebola, enterovirus D68, the flu, and the common cold.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve. If you use a tissue, wash your hands with soap and water after throwing away the tissue.
- Stay home from work or school when sick. This will help to prevent the spread of illnesses throughout the community.