Ebola Facts, Symptoms and Prevention
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe and often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization. Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development. There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.
Ebola Symptoms and Diagnosis
Ebola is rare but is very deadly, it causes bleeding inside and outside the body. As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding. The disease, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Ebola virus, kills up to 90% of people who are infected.
Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, joint and muscle pain and headaches, weakness, stomach pain and lack of appetite. Ebola can feel like the flu or other illnesses. Symptoms show up 2 to 21 days after infection. As the disease gets worse, it causes bleeding inside the body, as well as from the eyes, ears and nose. Some people will vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea and get a rash along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal. Spreading through the air has not been documented in the natural environment. Fruit bats are believed to be a carrier and may spread the virus without being affected. Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people, as well. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. To make the diagnosis, typically other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are first excluded. To confirm the diagnosis, blood samples are tested for viral antibodies, viral RNA or the virus itself. There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. But they will not give up trying to find a vaccine to protect people from getting this horrible and fatal disease. Scientists are working on a variety of vaccines that would protect people from Ebola or Marburg viruses. Some of the results have been promising, but further testing is needed. It is hoped that one will be available by November of 2014.
Will Ebola Reach the USA
The 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa. It’s affecting five countries in West Africa. The outbreak does not pose a significant risk to the United States. The CDC says there’s no significant risk of Ebola in the United States. It has strong safety measures in place for people who have Ebola and are brought to the U.S. for treatment. Ebola can spread from country to country when people travel. So it is possible for it to reach the U.S. if an infected person travels here. But there are ways to prevent people from coming to U.S. airports with the disease. Airline crews are trained to spot the symptoms of Ebola in passengers flying from places where the virus is found. Crews are told to quarantine anyone who looks infected.
How to Protect Yourself from the Ebola Virus
Prevention focuses on avoiding contact with the viruses. The following precautions can help prevent infection and spread of Ebola and Marburg. If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following to protect yourself and loved ones.
- Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids. Wash your hands frequently. As with other infectious diseases, one of the most important preventive measures is frequent hand-washing. Use soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol when soap and water aren’t available. Take hand sanitizer everywhere with you, give it to your kids and let them know why.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids and raw meat prepared from these animals. Like Bush Meat so be sure to Avoid bush meat. In developing countries, avoid buying or eating the wild animals, including nonhuman primates, sold in local markets.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
- After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
- Avoid areas of known outbreaks. Before traveling to Africa, find out about current epidemics by checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
If there would become a Ebola outbreak in the United States, my advice to you is to wear a mouth cover mask. Always wear gloves or pack hand sanitizer and try to avoid contact with others, and even wear the appropriate clothing that covers and have no skin exposing. You can become infected just by touching an infected human and even animal by their sweat. Even if the outbreak is not reported to be in your area always take precautionary measures to protect you and your family. I would even go as far as home schooling your children just to be safe. School is the one place where kids come in contact with others and items. You always want to be safe to protect yourself and your loved ones. Especially when it comes to a disease as aggressive as Ebola. There’s no cure for this disease. If you have Ebola, you’ll be isolated from the public immediately to prevent the spread. The Ebola virus kills up to 90% of people who are infected. So you do whatever you need to protect your family if their would ever become an outbreak in the US, which scientists say is unlikely but you can never be to sure. Always be prepared and have a plan.