Cleaning After Ebola - Alliance
October 3, 2014

Cleaning After Ebola

Written by Alliance Environmental

Are you worried about the Ebola virus spreading here in the U.S.? It sounds like, if proper precautions are being taken, Ebola will not be the problem here that it has become in West Africa, but we are reading about the apartment complex in Dallas in which an Ebola patient spent a few symptomatic days before going back to the hospital.

There are still people living in that apartment and the complex where it has been reported he was sick outside as well as inside. What should they be doing to clean up now that he has gone to the hospital?

How does Ebola spread?

Some viruses do not survive on non-porous surfaces. Those viruses spread less quickly, since just touching something that has been touched by a sufferer will not transmit the virus. HIV does not live on hard surfaces, for example. But the rhinoviruses which cause colds can live for up to 3 days on a counter or doorknob. Open the door and then rub your eyes and three days later you might be pretty miserable.

Ebola is reported to live on surfaces up to 6 days in perfect conditions, but in a typical setting will only live a few hours. If you touch something the next day, you won’t get Ebola.

Where a cold is contagious before symptoms show themselves, the Ebola virus is spread by contact with a patient’s bodily fluids after they become symptomatic. So if you are somewhere–like on an airplane–with someone who comes down with Ebola after the flight, you are not in danger of catching Ebola. It would still be a good idea to clean that plane very well and we hope they have done so, but the passengers on the plane with the man in Dallas are not at risk.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids. Unfortunately those fluids include saliva and sweat. Here is where we get worried about that apartment complex.

What needs to be decontaminated after Ebola?

  • Clothes, bedding–Anything that an Ebola patient may have sweated on should be discarded using hazardous materials best practices.
  • Mattresses–Your feverish friend has probably left sweat on the mattress as well as the sheets. Time to get a new one.
  • Towels–There is probably virus on anything that touched the patient’s wet skin.
  • Handkerchiefs–Laundering isn’t safe enough.
  • Anywhere there might be other bodily fluids–It’s a good idea to treat a place that has housed an Ebola patient as a Trauma scene. Blood, vomit, diarrhea may not be under control at all times.

Could you clean up after an Ebola outbreak on your own?

The short answer is: No. Not as well as is necessary.

We know that a cleaning company was called in Dallas eventually, but as of yesterday, the patient’s bedding was still in place and the towels he used had not been removed. There are still family members being restricted to that apartment. We are glad to hear that professionals have been called, but the press was not told who they were, what their qualifications were, or what the process was going to be. We will keep our eyes open for more information.

What would Alliance do?

Alliance would take the Ebola risk very seriously, both for the family and our trauma scene cleaning team.

We provide all decontamination services including: disinfection, odor neutralization and total removal of biological and infectious waste, blood, and bodily fluids in residential, commercial and industrial settings as well as vehicles.

Our crews are well-trained, experienced and empathetic. They will take care of your most upsetting messes with professionalism and tact.

If you have an environmental cleanup situation anywhere in California and would like someone else to take care of it for you, please contact us.

We sincerely hope that Ebola will not make it to California, but it looks like there might be a few more cases: in Atlanta, in Hawaii, in Washington, DC. It may be only a matter of time. We are ready, if we are needed.


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