Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Sick" "Infected" "Symptomatic" and "Contagious" - Tangled up in Ebola Messages

Task: still working to clarify the NYCDOHMH explanation  "How Does Ebola Spread" from the previous post.
Let's tackle the statement explaining when someone is contagious.
 "People only become contagious after they begin to have   symptoms, such as fever."[Revision goal: explain the distinction between when a person is contagious and when they are not]

You can only get (catch) the Ebola virus from another person when that person has symptoms.  This means that the sick person is vomiting, throwing up, or has fever.    If the sick person is in the early part of Ebola they have the virus but they may not have any symptoms yet. You cannot get Ebola from a person who does not have symptoms. 

The above revision was working well until two colleagues showed me a  Palm Card the DOH produced recently.  
Ebola - Am I at Risk?  
Excerpt from NYCDOHMH Palm Card
In this consumer message they are not making any distinction between a sick person (a person with Ebola) and a contagious person. 

Which message should we be communicating to the general public when it comes to concepts of  "sick" "infected" "symptomatic" and "contagious".

A person can have the Ebola virus but not be sick. 
A person with Ebola is not sick until they have symptoms.
A person can only spread Ebola when they have symptoms. 
You can only get the Ebola virus from a sick person who is having symptoms.
?   ?   ?