According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus species. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). When the Ebola virus enters the body, it starts to destroy the immune system and organs. Seriously, this deadly virus causes uncontrollable bleeding, threatening patients’ life. Ebola is known to kill up to 90% of people who are infected.
Ebola was firstly detected in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. As the disease was found in an area near Ebola River, people called it Ebola. Since then, there have been intermittent outbreaks in Africa.
The latest as well as the largest outbreak of Ebola started in West Africa in March 2014 and, as of Oct. 5, 2014. Those outbreaks were considered to be more deadly, serious and widespread than ever. The year of 2014 witnessed 8,033 Ebola cases, in which, 3,865 of them came to death.
How do people get Ebola?
As mentioned before, Ebola is caused by an infection with Ebola virus, a part of the Filoviridae family. There are five identified species (types) of Ebola virus and four of them are proved to cause disease in humans:
– Zaire ebolavirus
– Sudan ebolavirus
– Taï Forest ebolavirus
– Bundibugyo ebolavirus
– Reston ebolavirus (has not caused illness in humans)
People can be infected with Ebola by touching the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, such as a monkey, chimp, or fruit bat. The infection between humans is the same. This deadly disease can also be spread through touching contaminated surfaces or medical equipment, such as needles. Objects who are suffering from the highest risk of getting Ebola include:
– Health-care workers, family members and friends who are responsible for directly caring an infected person with Ebola virus disease.
– People who have sexual contact with semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola (by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex)
– Staff working with bodily fluids of an Ebola virus disease patient.
– Animal researchers working in infected areas.
What are symptoms of Ebola?
At the beginning, the symptoms are nearly similar to common flu or other illnesses. They may appear from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola and include:
– High fever
– Joint and muscle aches
– Sore throat
– Stomach pain
– Lack of appetite
When thing becomes worse, uncontrollable bleeding inside the body and from the eyes, ears, and nose may occur. In some cases, people can develop vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea, and get a rash.
How is Ebola treated?
There is neither cure nor vaccine for Ebola. The process of treatment is designed to make the patients feel more comfortable, including:
– Maintaining blood pressure
– Managing electrolyte balances
– Supplying extra oxygen, if needed
– Providing intravenous and/or oral fluids to prevent dehydration
– Treating coexisting infections
– Stopping other infections from occurring
– Administering blood products if indicated
How can Ebola be prevented?
As there is no vaccine approved for preventing Ebola, the best way to avoid this disease is not to travel to infected areas. In case you are living or have to move to those locations, remember the following things:
– Practice careful hygiene, including cleaning your hands with soap and fresh water. If you don’t have both of them, consider an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
– Avoid using items which may contain infected person’s blood or body fluids (like clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
– Don’t attend funeral or burial rituals of someone who has died from Ebola.
– Stop contacting with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids.
– Don’t eat raw meat prepared from infected animals.
– Avoid contacting with semen from a man who has had Ebola until you are sure that Ebola is gone from his semen.
– When you come back from infected areas, pay much attention to your health for 21 days and look for medical care immediately if you think you have any symptom of Ebola.
Healthcare workers and lab technicians are those who have the highest risk of getting Ebola. Consequently, they must take great precautions, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC):
– Pu on appropriate personal protective equipment.
– Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures.
– Separate patients with Ebola from others.
– Avoid direct, unprotected contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola. If you have contacted with those infected body, immediately, inform health officials.