The Deadly Ebola Outbreak: What You Need to Know About the Disease
Ebola, a deadly virus, is once again gaining international attention due to an outbreak in West Africa. Since the virus was first identified in 1976, there have been 30 outbreaks – the worst of which was in 2014-2016, which resulted in more than 11,000 deaths. Despite its high mortality rate, many people still don’t understand the disease or its transmission.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, a severe and often fatal disease in humans and other primates. The virus originated in Africa, where it is found in several species of fruit bats that can carry and spread the virus without becoming ill. Ebola can be transmitted to humans through contact with these bats, or through contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals such as monkeys or porcupines.
Once the virus is transmitted to humans, it can spread quickly through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected persons or animals. The virus can also be spread through contact with objects contaminated with the virus such as needles and syringes.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of Ebola can take between 2 and 21 days to appear, but typically manifest after 8-10 days. The early symptoms of Ebola are similar to those of other viral infections such as fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, and fatigue. As the virus progresses, symptoms can worsen to include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. In some cases, internal bleeding can lead to coma and death.
How is it Treated?
Currently, there is no specific treatment for Ebola. Treatment mainly involves supportive care such as intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, and pain medication. In some cases, experimental drugs have been used with varying degrees of success. Prevention is key to avoiding the disease, which includes avoiding contact with infected animals and ensuring that healthcare workers are properly protected when treating infected patients.
How to Stay Safe
The best way to avoid contracting Ebola is by following simple hygiene practices such as thorough hand washing with soap and water, avoid contact with infected animals or sick people, and proper use and disposal of needles and syringes. For healthcare workers, following proper infection control procedures such as wearing personal protective equipment is critical.
The recent Ebola outbreak serves as a reminder that infectious diseases can spread rapidly and must be taken seriously. By understanding the transmission and symptoms of Ebola, people can take steps to protect themselves and others. Additionally, proper education and resources can empower medical professionals to effectively treat Ebola while limiting its spread.