The Ebola Virus, known as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), and formerly referred to as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever is speedily gaining grounds across West Africa. So far, it has reportedly killed 632 people and has had it’s first death case here in Nigeria.
Ebola can be transmitted from human to human. In the Journal of Infectious Diseases, health experts dedicated to research on the virus, made these assertions after several tests:
“Although Ebola virus (EBOV) is transmitted by unprotected physical contact with infected persons, few data exist on which specific bodily fluids are infected or on the risk of fomite transmission. Therefore, we tested various clinical specimens from 26 laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, as well as environmental specimens collected from an isolation ward, for the presence of EBOV. Virus was detected by culture and/or reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction in 16 of 54 clinical specimens (including saliva, stool, semen, breast milk, tears, nasal blood, and a skin swab) and in 2 of 33 environmental specimens.We conclude that EBOV is shed in a wide variety of bodily fluids during the acute period of illness but that the risk of transmission from fomites in an isolation ward and from convalescent patients is low when currently recommended infection control guidelines for the viral hemorrhagic fevers are followed.”
What this clearly means is that the virus can be gotten through unprotected sex and kissing infected people. In addition, if one comes in contact with bodily secretions found on needles, scalpels, soiled clothes and linens, there is high risk of infection.
Other ways one can contact the disease are through contact with a contaminated objects, butchering an infected animal and touching the dead body of someone who has died from the disease.
Fruit bats are also natural hosts of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. For people who enjoy eating bats, they have been warned to desist. Also, researchers believe humans are infected by handling dead or alive infected animals (like chimpanzees, gorillas and forest antelopes). People are advised to avoid bush meat.
Out of the 410 suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in Guinea, 310 suspected deaths have occurred. Of the 196 suspected and confirmed cases in Liberia, 116 suspected deaths have occurred. Of 442 suspected and confirmed cases in Sierra Leone, 206 suspected deaths have occurred. Ebola kills 80 to 90 percent of the time, says Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Diagnosis is Hard in the Early Stages
Because the first symptoms of Ebola could be signs of other conditions like skin rash and red eyes, it is usually hard to diagnose. However, tests can be run in a hospital.
- Joint and muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Lack of appetite
Some patients sometimes experience:
- A Rash
- Red Eyes
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Haemorrhaging inside and outside of the body
Symptoms sometimes appear from 2 to 21 days after a person gets infected but the most common is 8-10 days.
Ebola Has no Cure or Vaccine
Treatments and vaccines are being tested right now but so far, nothing has been made available for the cure or prevention of Ebola. There is only supportive therapy for infected persons and this consists of maintaining blood pressure and oxygen levels, and maintaining adequate fluid and electrolyte balance.
Some People Do Recover From Ebola
The percentage of recoveries is very low, most times just 1 out of 10 reported cases makes it out alive. It is yet uncertain why some people are able to fight it and others cannot.
How to Prevent Infection of Ebola
The Guardian listed out the following measures:
- Avoid direct and indirect contact with bodily fluids and tissue of infected persons.
- Frequent Hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer.
- Fruits and vegetables must be washed properly before eating; avoid bush meat and even suya, which the source is not known.
- Avoid shaking of hands and hugging of people, at least for now.
- Practise safe sex
- Watch children and even adults to discourage them from licking their fingers before washing. Nail biting should be avoided.
- The use of gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment must be used in taking care of ill patients. Proper handling of corpses, which may involve a modification of burial practices, is also a preventive step.
Are Countries Outside West Africa at Risk?
Earlier this year, a woman flying into Canada from Congo fell ill and was hospitalized. News soon spread that she had contacted the virus, even though she hadn’t. There have not been any reported cases but people feel the disease is only a plane ride away, just the same way it got into Nigeria.
“It is not impossible” that an Ebola outbreak could occur in North America, says Ann Marie Kimball, an epidemiologist with the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, Seattle. “We live in an age in which the travel time is shorter than the incubation for a disease. You can get infected, go on a plane for 13 or 14 hours and still have two to three days to get sick.”
Historically, Kimball adds that people would travel by ship and their symptoms would show up by the time they reached port and they could be quarantined. But its is not the same with air trips “Given travel time today, we may see an increasing number of people becoming ill when they arrive in this country, which makes disease control impossible.”
“The possibility that this deadly virus has reached North America focuses attention on the need to fortify our ability to detect and handle outbreaks of infectious diseases,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, said in a statement.
“It is only a matter of time before the Ebola virus reaches North America, whether this time or the next. Any infectious disease — even the world’s most deadly virus — is only an airplane flight away from our shores.”
For now, the best way to avoid being infected is to employ all measures to keep yourself protected.