WaterAid is deeply concerned by the spread of the Ebola virus, which has affected communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. To help protect our staff and the people we work with against the virus, we have put a response plan in place and temporarily closed our offices in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Our programme work has also been suspended in these countries. We are continuing to carefully monitor the situation, in consultation with other International Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) operating in these areas. The Ebola virus Ebola is spread by direct contact with infected animals or with bodily fluids – blood, semen, vomit and faeces. Those who have died from the virus remain highly contagious and anyone washing or touching the body is at high risk of contracting it. As the medical community faces the enormous challenge of battling the virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning against close physical contact with Ebola sufferers and advises high-level precautions for their caregivers. For travellers, and particularly those in affected regions, the WHO advises careful hygiene – including good handwashing with soap – as among the ways to protect against the virus. Supporting efforts to stop transmission "We are monitoring this situation closely and express our great concern for those affected and their families," says Girish Menon, Director of International Programmes at WaterAid. "We have worked in Sierra Leone and Liberia for the last several years, and have seen the great challenges involved in reaching rural areas, including health facilities and other public buildings. "Having helped to rebuild fragile access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygiene after devastating civil wars, we will continue to promote these three basic rights to support government efforts to stop Ebola's deadly transmission. "These states are fragile and in need of international support at this time. Our thoughts are with all those affected, their families and communities." Find out more about WaterAid's work in Liberia and Sierra Leone.