If you have been keeping up to date with the latest news, then you have probably heard that there are a number of countries which are at present contending with a very deadly Ebola outbreak. Given below are the most important things that you need to know about Ebola.
What exactly is Ebola?
Ebola is caused by the Ebola virus. It is an infectious disease which has killed more than 4000 people so far. According to the World Health Organization, the fatality rate has been put at 70 percent. Currently, there are five strains of this virus out of which four strains are known to affect humans and one strain which can affect other primates. It was in 1976 when the disease was first identified near the Ebola River which is situated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the past 15 years, there has been a sporadic outbreak in many parts of DRC and other countries including South Sudan, Uganda as well as the Philippines.
How is Ebola caused?
Ebola can be caused in a number of ways. It can be caused by coming into direct contact (mucous membranes and cuts in skin) with the body fluids such as semen, spit, urine, blood or other fluids of someone who has died of Ebola or has contracted the disease.
The disease can also be caused by coming into contact with objects such as medical equipment and needles which are contaminated with the virus. Lastly, it can be caused by consuming infected meat or coming into contact with body fluids or blood of infected animals.
It is important to remember that Ebola cannot be caused as a result of casual contact with an infected person. It cannot be spread though food, water or air.
The symptoms of Ebola can be quite gruesome. Initial symptoms include headache, muscle pain, sore throat and fever. However, when the disease progresses, patients can experience diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, impaired liver and kidney functions as well as bleeding which can be both internal and external.
Is there a cure?
Over the months, a number of experiments have been conducted to come up with vaccines and cure to treat Ebola. But, none of them have so far been approved by the FDA in the USA. Ebola can be fatal only in the worst cases, so it is not possible to say whether serums and vaccines which have been developed so far can help cure patients or patients have been able to make recovery on their own.
Countries most at risk
There are a number of countries in West Africa which have been affected by the Ebola virus. These include Liberia, Guinea, Sierra, Senegal and Nigeria. But, health care resources and infrastructure play a huge role on how each country is affected by the virus. So far, there have been more than 4000 deaths and more than 8000 reported cases of the disease. Apart from these countries, few cases have also been reported in the US and Spain.
In order to prevent this disease, it is important that hospitals follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. These guidelines mainly include safe injection practices, disinfecting equipment, wearing protecting wear and so on.