Dealing With Ebola Infected Corpses

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
By Paul Martin

Liz Bennett
Sep 16, 2014

Many people who have succumbed to Ebola have contracted the disease from handling and disposal of the corpses of loved ones. there is much information out there of how to avoid catching Ebola, setting up a sick room etc, but there is little mention of disposal of infected corpses.

In a national crisis expert teams will be dispatched to collect corpses, but if they are overwhelmed the corpse needs to be dealt with before more infection occurs. In a really extreme situation help may not be forthcoming, and that’s what this article is about.

Some may find the following upsetting and rather dispassionate, and for that I’m sorry, but this article isn’t about feelings and grieving, it’s about staying alive.

Okay, so, a loved one has died of Ebola and you are left with a highly infective corpse. What do you do? Well, first you need to understand what often happens at the time of a ‘normal’ death, and what always happens at the time of an Ebola death.

Once death occurs degradation starts almost immediately and for bodies not taken away and dealt with by undertakers, morticians and coroners visible signs of decay can start in as little as 15 minutes after death if the conditions are warm and humid.

At the point of death the body starts to cool, within four hours the body will be at or close to the temperature of its surroundings. During this time the skin will have paled visibly and will be waxy looking. Postural lividity caused by blood pooling and coagulating in the lowest part of the body will have occurred so, someone lying face down will be discoloured, looking a purple/dark blue colour on the front of their body.

The muscles that control the bowel and the bladder will have lost their tonicity, they will be relaxed and moving the body will cause both to evacuate. Rigor Mortis, which literally translates as ‘stiffness in death’ will be complete at around the 12 hour point after death. The only way to change the position of the body once it has set in is to ‘crack’ the rigor, literally snapping the muscles to alter the position. Rigor will wear off over the next 18-24 hours but by then, if left the internal organs of the body have started to decay. Gases build up in the gut and intestines and are not passed out of the body as they were in life and this gives the corpse a swollen and bloated appearance.

The Rest…HERE

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