Raising Awareness of the Ebola Virus

With the Ebola virus reaching several countries, the number of infected people has surpassed 10,000. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola has claimed approximately 4,922 lives out of about 10,141 cases in the world. The first case was identified in West Africa as early as March 2014, and is labeled the “largest and most complex” outbreak since it was first discovered in 1976.

The Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as, Ebola haemorrhagic fever, can be described as a severe and fatal illness in humans. You may wonder how one can be infected by such a devastating illness. Ebola can be transmitted from animals to people and also can be spread from person to person contact. According to WHO, Ebola usually averages somewhat close to a 50 percent fatality rate, but it all depends on how it has gotten in the individual’s body.

Some researchers believe Ebola originated from fruit bats that are a part of the Pteropodidae species, and was then spread to humans who came in contact with them. Fruit bats are not the only animals that can be infected with the virus, but animals like monkeys, porcupines, and gorillas are as well.

If one is in close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other fluids from the body, and anything contaminated with these fluids, then they are at risk of being infected. Those working in the medical field are also at risk for being infected since they have to work with and help treat those infected or suspected of having Ebola.

On September 30, 2014, the director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, announced the first diagnosed Ebola infection in the United States, which was located in the state of Texas. The individual was said to be isolated and hospitalized since Sept 26. This individual was Thomas Eric Duncan, who according to the Huffington Post, traveled to the U.S. on Sept 20 to reunite with his son and marry his son’s mother. Duncan came from Liberia to put an end to a 16-year separation from his son, unaware of the fatal tragedy he will face while doing so.

Before leaving Liberia, Duncan was screened for Ebola by health care officials at the airport, who confirmed that he did not have a fever nor did he show any signs of being infected.Unfortunately, on Sept 25, Duncan’s first signs of symptoms became apparent. Duncan later died on Oct 8 in Dallas, Texas. Although Duncan was the first Ebola case in the U.S., the nurse who cared for him, Nina Pham, was the first to contract Ebola in the U.S..

Pham tested positive for Ebola after a blood test, which led to her being hospitalized and treated for 13 days. Pham was discharged yesterday, after being identified as Ebola-free. Pham is an example of how this disease can be beat, but it is important to catch it early in order to stop it in its tracks.

With the fatality of this disease it is important to be aware of the symptoms and signs of Ebola. According to the CDC, these symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding. These symptoms may appear two to 21 days after being exposed to Ebola, but on average it is between eight to 10 days according to the CDC.

According to WHO, if you or health care officials suspect that you are infected with the disease, then they will run a antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbest assay, antigen-capture detection test, serum neutralization test, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay, electron microscopy, or virus isolation by cell culture.

Because this disease is fatal, it is extremely important to take precautions necessary to protect one’s health. The CDC offers a list of precautions to prevent infection from Ebola which include practicing careful hygiene (washing hands, using alcohol-based sanitizer), avoid contact with body fluids and blood, do not come into contact with items or materials that may have body fluids or blood of an infected individual, and avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates, blood, or raw meat prepared from those animals.

With the outbreak of Ebola being a global issue, it is important for everyone to be informed and aware of its impact, risks, symptoms, and precautions needed.

For more information on the Ebola virus disease, please visit: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/preventions/index.html www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ www.cnn.com/2014/04/11/health/ebola-fast-facts/

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