ebola virus
Source: Center for Disease Control

by Nana Afrifa

By now, I am sure plenty of people have heard about the Ebola epidemic. The outbreak has been the largest of any kind with a 90% fatality rate (World Health Organization). A confirmed case of Ebola patients in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and The Democratic Republic of Congo [as of late]) has been approximately 2,615 people and of those, 1,427 have died (WHO/BBC Africa). It is important to educate the community because the more you know, the better your chances are of survival.

What is Ebola?

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a “virus that causes bleeding inside and outside of the body (WebMD).” It’s unclear  as to where the virus originated, but health officials believe that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are the natural hosts of the Ebola virus.

How does Ebola virus spread?

Source: Center for Disease Control
Source: Center for Disease Control

The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids (through broken skin or mucous membranes) such as: blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people. For up to 7 weeks after recovery, the human male still has the potential to spread the virus via his semen. Indirect contact with a contaminated environment, such as burial ceremonies, also contributes to the spread of the disease. From what we know, the virus cannot be transmitted through food, water, or air.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Typically symptoms of Ebola mimic those of the flu. They include: fever, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea, headache, sore throat, internal/ external bleeding, and diarrhea.

How is Ebola treated?

There are neither vaccines nor specific methods of treatment. Therefore, prevention, diagnosis, and quarantine are very important components in the control of the Ebola virus. However, several experimental drugs (e.g. ZMapp) are undergoing tests on the infected civilians.


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