Ebola Basics and the other E (Coli)

Here is a brief look at a few ‘Bios’.  HazMat responders are expected to know quite a bit about everything hazardous.  Take a look to keep ‘frosty’ on the basics.  Below, we look at Ebola vs. E. Coli, Virus vs. Bacteria.

According to the CDC:

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly viral illness that is reportable to the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) in all U.S. states and territories. Early recognition of EVD is critical for infection control. Health-care providers should be alert for and evaluate any patients suspected of having EVD.

This is a great watch which breaks down the basics,  here Ebola is simplified by Alex Gendler in a TED presentation: (Lesson by Alex Gendler, animation by Andrew Foerster)


Ebola - as seen through a microscope - Courtesy CDC

Ebola – as seen through a microscope – Courtesy CDC

Is a Virus

  • Exists in Bodily Fluids
  • All known cases were direct contact with severely ill
  • Far less deadly overall than the Flu

How do we detect in the field?

What a HazMat team may carry out in the field is generally limited to finding the presence of proteins.  Ebola currently needs a laboratory analysis to accurately determine but new technologies are being developed to detect more rapidly.  A team led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has developed chip-based technology for reliable detection of Ebola virus and other viral pathogens. The system uses direct optical detection of viral molecules and can be integrated into a simple, portable instrument for use in field situations where rapid, accurate detection of Ebola infections is needed to control outbreaks.  Read more by Tim Stephens here.  LAPD HazMat is able to look at Bio Samples and take pix to send in advance to the confirmation lab.  Click the link for more.

Here is a link to an infographic by the CDC  ebolainfographic

The other E

E Coli - as seen through a microscope - courtesy CDC

E Coli – as seen through a microscope – courtesy CDC

This is worth mentioning since so many still confuse the two.

E Coli: E.coli is a bacterium that is commonly found in the gut of all humans and most warm-blooded animals. Most strains of E.Coli have beneficial functions. For example they may prevent harmful bacteria from establishing themselves in the intestine. There are some strains of E.Coli, however, that are pathogenic, which means that they can cause diseases.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) the pathogen-commodity pairs (germs and foods) responsible for the most outbreak-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and death in 2009-2010 were:

  • Illnesses
    • Salmonella in eggs (2231 illnesses)
    • Salmonella in sprouts (493 illnesses)
    • Salmonella in vine-stalk vegetables (422 illnesses)
  • Hospitalizations
    • Salmonella in vine-stalk vegetables (88 hospitalizations)
    • E. coli O157 in beef (46 hospitalizations)
    • Salmonella in sprouts (41 hospitalizations)
  • Deaths
    • E. coli O157 in beef (3 deaths)
    • Salmonella in pork (2 deaths)
    • Listeria in dairy (2 deaths)

Get more E Coli information from the CDC here

-HMN Staff


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