When you hear the word “EBOLA”, water isn’t usually the first thing that springs to mind. The spread of the deadly virus has more obvious connotations, but in fact, water is closely connected and can have a real impact on the treatment of the virus.
Firstly, as we all should know by now, Ebola is NOT spread through water. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“When an infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread to others through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected fruit bats or primates (apes and monkeys)
Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food.
Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids.”However, water certainly has a role to play. Clean water (and potable, where possible) is an essential component to the tackling of the crisis: Peter Gleick, a scientist, innovator and communicator on global water and environmental issues, writes on scienceblogs.com that it is vital that any hospital, medical facility or field station has a clean and regular supply of water. This is so that washing, sanitation, sterilization of equipment and other important things can be carried out reliably.
It is therefore extremely important that localised water sources are established as soon as possible. As Gleick notes, given the West African climate, clean groundwater may be the best option.
To date, over 5,400 people have died from contracting the Ebola virus. The difficulties in containing the spread are evident – but a good supply of clean water can help enormously.
You can donate to Oxfam’s Ebola Crisis Appeal here.