10/13/14

10 Things We Should Know About Ebola

I can honestly say, before I woke up this morning, I knew very little about Ebola. In fact, the only thing I really knew for sure, was that it was killing people. That's it.  In an effort to gain some control of my fear and anxiety about it killing my family, I decided to do a little research. Below are 10 things I found very interesting, and more important, information that gave me power over my fears. 

Most all of the information was gathered via the World Health Organization and medical papers.  I'm so pissed at the CDC for repeatedly backtracking, that I'm not sure any of their information is correct anymore.

Emory staff care for an American missionary who contracted Ebola in Africa. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times.)


1. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

2. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

3. Ebola is extremely infectious but not extremely contagious. Ebola is classified as moderately infectious since it is not transmitted through air. Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

4. The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. 

5. Symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools).

6. While the incubation period from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days, most show symptoms around 8-10 days from infection.

7.  Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms, and once cured no longer infectious, however, Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness. 

8.  There is as yet no proven treatment available for Ebola. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.  Two potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing. The only course of action for infected includes constant rehydration with fluids, electrolytes and food. 

9. The current outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa, with a staggering 50% mortality rate. 

10. EVERYONE WHO GETS EBOLA WILL NOT DIE! According to Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs Emory’s infectious disease unit, "Most patients, if they have not had any substantial organ damage, will make a full recovery."

I have to say, after doing the research, I am not nearly as fearful of an Ebola outbreak. Granted, it's clear that this virus is FAR from being contained, however, it's also clear that it is not going to wipe out the human race. 

I also have to mention, on August 8, 2014 the WHO Director-General declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. AUGUST 8th??? "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." Why did the US not start taking steps back then?  Hopefully, moving forward the world leaders will work together to contain the spread of Ebola. 

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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