Ebola Virus – Three Things You Need to Know

featured-bacterial-infections-101The Ebola virus has resurged and become all but an epidemic in parts of West Africa.  As of this past July, as many as 60% of the infected with the virus has died in this recent bout.  But if you are like me, I was oblivious as to what Ebola really was.

MedicineNet.com defines this disease as follows:  “Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a viral disease caused by Ebola virus that results in nonspecific symptoms early in the disease and often causes internal and external hemorrhage (bleeding) as the disease progresses. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is considered one of the most lethal viral infections; the mortality rate (death rate) is very high during outbreaks (reports of outbreaks range from about 50% to 100% of humans infected, depending on the Ebola strain).”

Additionally, here are three main things I found out:

How it’s Contracted

The Ebola virus is native to West Africa, stemming from countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, South Sudan, Gabon, Guinea and Liberia.  This virus lives in animals, and in turn, humans can contract it from these same infected animals.  How?  The main thing to remember is that this virus can be passed on by coming in contact with body fluids of an infected person or animal.  Scientists have deduced one of the ways the virus is transmitted is from eating the infected animals.  In this case, it could be monkeys or fruit bats which are a part of the diet of West Africans.

Another way transmission occurs is by using unclean medical equipment or needles after caring for Ebola patients.  In developed countries this is very seldom the problem, but in poorer countries where funds and trained professional help is scarce, this is certainly the case.  Also, the virus can be passed on from the dead to living.  When infected patients die, those handling the body are in danger of contracting this disease if they are not wearing the appropriate protective gear.

Signs and Symptoms

The Mayo Clinic states that signs and symptoms can start as early as five to 10 days of infection.  At this point, the infected individual may start to experience:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Over time, symptoms may worsen to include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (possibly bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding – from eyes; worsens toward death, coming from every orifice: eyes, ears, nose and rectum
  • Internal bleeding
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Shock

Cure and Prevention

Even though scientists are working on a cure, there is none at this time.  And since there is no known cure, prevention is the key.  The Mayo Clinic provides some clear-cut prevention steps:

Avoid areas of known outbreaks – if traveling abroad, check for current epidemics

Wash your hands frequently – use soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs (with 60% alcohol)

Avoid bush meat – do not buy wild animal meat while in developing countries

Avoid contact with infected people – caregivers need to take special care to avoid contact with the person’s blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva

Follow infection-control procedures – wear protective gear and dispose of used needles

Don’t handle remains – let specially train teams bury remains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Ebola Virus – Three Things You Need to Know

    1. Hi the Girl,
      All of the reputable sources (MedlinePlus, Mayo Clinic, WebMD, CDC) only indicated blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and saliva. I did run up on an article that stated it could be passed on by sweat, but like I said, it wasn’t a reputable source. Thanks for asking.

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