This simple act can help protect you against Ebola

Flickr Creative Commons/Julien Harneis

Washing your hands can help protect you from catching Ebola. That’s because the virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids (sweat, vomit, diarrhea, urine, saliva and blood). Handwashing is always advisable after this kind of contact, but if you’ve touched someone who has Ebola or has died from Ebola, or a surface that was contaminated with the person’s fluids, make sure you wash right away.

  • When should you wash? After touching animals or bushmeat, using the toilet, changing a diaper, having contact with a person’s bodily fluids, and before preparing or eating food.

  • Suppose you interact with someone who has Ebola? Also wash your hands after coming into contact with his or her clothing, bedsheets or any surfaces you both may have touched. The Ebola virus can remain active on dry surfaces for hours and much longer on wet surfaces, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • How long is a person contagious? For up to two months after being diagnosed.

  • What is the best way to wash? With soap and warm water.

  • Will the wash water become contaminated? Possibly. As a precaution, dispose of the wash water in a pit or add extra chlorine to it after use.

  • How should you dry your hands? After washing, do not dry your hands on a dirty towel or your clothing because this might recontaminate them. Instead, air dry your hands or use a clean towel to dry them.

Handwashing is essential. High heat, exposure to hours of sunlight, and alcohol-based hand rub all kill the virus as well.

Global Handwashing Day is October 15. Join in the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.