Ebola: Everything You Need to Know

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Ebola_virus_virionStaff Report

Now that the deadly Ebola virus has reached America, we felt it was an appropriate time to share with our readers the full facts regarding the outbreak, as well as provide tips on how to avoid contamination.

History
Throughout the early part of 2014, the Ebola virus was contained largely to the African nation of the virus first Guinea and in March of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) first began drawing international attention to the outbreak.

After some research, medical professionals traced the outbreak to a two-year old child who died on December 28, 2013.

In August 2014, the WHO declared the epidemic to be an international public health emergency. Urging the world to offer aid to the affected regions, the Director-General said, “Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own. I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”

By mid-August 2014, Doctors Without Borders reported the situation in Liberia’s capital Monrovia as “catastrophic” and “deteriorating daily”. They report that fears of Ebola among staff members and patients has shut down much of the city’s health system which has resulted in leaving many people without treatment for other conditions. By late August 2014, the disease had spread to Nigeria.

By early-September, over 4,000 suspected cases including 2,296 deaths had been reported, however the World Health Organization has said that these numbers may be vastly underestimated.

Additionally the outbreak has resulted in more than 120 healthcare worker deaths partly due to the lack of equipment and long hours. On September 8, 2014, WHO warned the number of new cases in Liberia was increasing exponentially, and would increase by “many thousands” in the following 3 weeks.

On September 30, 2014, the first confirmed case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Texas. The patient had traveled to Dallas, Texas, from Liberia. The patient did not have symptoms when leaving West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

Symptoms of Ebola include
Fever (greater than 101.5°F)
Severe headache
Muscle pain
Weakness
Diarrhea
Vomiting
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

Transmission
blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.  Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus infected animals.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.

Prevention
There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola.  If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:
* Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
* Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
* Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
* Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
* Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
* After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.

Healthcare workers who may be exposed to people with Ebola should follow these steps:
* Wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection.
* Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures. For more information, see “Infection Control for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting”.
* Isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.
* Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.
* Notify health officials if you have had direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth

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