Ebola: What Are My Risks?


If you watch the news, you’ve seen the health challenge facing the people of western Africa as Ebola barrels through their ill-prepared communities. You’ve seen health experts from around the world issue dire warnings, followed by promises that the deadly virus won’t spread here. Poor journalism and contradictory science seem to be as rampant as the virus itself. What are the facts?

Consider yourself lucky. As a U.S. resident aged 65 and over, you have little (or nothing) to fear from Ebola. Really. A recent Forbes magazine article does a great job of explaining why your flu shot is far more consequential than focusing on Ebola. While experts sort out the ongoing quest to control and eradicate the outbreak, you and your friends can efficiently safeguard your health against the garden variety colds and flu you’re likely to face this winter.

Tips For Protecting Yourself and Others From Getting Sick

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after playing games, browsing magazines or newspapers in common areas and before and after meals.
  1. Carry a small hand sanitizer with you when you go out. Use it before and after handling food, restaurant menus or shopping.
  1. Ask dining staff if condiment containers and other mealtime accessories are sanitized regularly. TV and remote control devices shared in common places are other potential culprits.  If items around shared spaces are not regularly cleaned, propose a change. Maybe a group of community residents could even volunteer to wipe down potential germ-spreaders using sanitized cleaning cloths and gloves on a regular basis. Disinfectant sprays (i.e. Lysol®) can also help. Whatever the case, find out how your community protects its residents and collaborate on ways to improve.
  1. Get vaccinated against the flu. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. You absolutely cannot catch the flu from a vaccine, so protect yourself.
  1. If you feel under the weather, stay in.

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