Simple preventive measures may help stem Ebola

2 min read

The rush to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in the last few months has generated years’ worth of new information about the previously little understood infectious disease, including simple but effective prevention measures, according to Lindsey Baden, deputy editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology faculty.

“We’ve learned as much about Ebola in the last two months as we normally would in 5-6 years,” Baden told an HSPH audience at his November 20, 2014 talk, “Ebola: Reporting on and Responding to an Evolving Outbreak.” The talk was sponsored by the Office of the Dean as part of a lecture series on the current Ebola outbreak.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola — named after the Ebola River where the disease first was recognized in 1976 — has claimed about 5,500 lives and sickened more than 14,000 in the current outbreak, mostly in West Africa.

One of the key lessons learned, said Baden, is the importance of keeping Ebola patients hydrated, even hydrating people at risk for the disease before they are diagnosed to compensate for severe fluid loss they would experience if they get the disease.