Ebola is one of the most deadliest conditions for humans. However, it is quite rare and major outbreaks have only been registered in Central and West Africa. Starting with the first recorded Ebola infection cases, back in 1976 and until now, there haven’t been major reasons of health concerns for the Western World. Unfortunately, this summer the most important outbreaks, since the disease is known, have been recorded in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia with a total death tool of over 670 people.
Naturally, we all have one question in mind: ‘Is Ebola going to reach the US and spread out? How about Europe? or the other Western countries?’ I invite you to read on and find out how real an Ebola pandemic really is, what you can do to prevent infection with this deadly virus and what kind of Ebola treatment is currently being offered.
What is Ebola?
The Ebola virus infection also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever causes internal and external bleeding. It ultimately leads to organ failure and death. It’s so lethal that it can kill between 25% and 90% of its sufferers, depending on the ebolavirus that causes the infection.
There are 5 Ebola virus strains, 4 of them that also infect humans called:
– Bundibugyo virus or (BDBV): the newest discovered ebolavirus, discovered in 2007. Death rate: 25%
– Sudan virus or (SUDV): discovered in 1976 during the first ever Ebola outbreaks. Death rate: 53%
– Tai Forest virus or (TAFV): has a death rate between 50-70%.
– Ebola virus or (EBOV): the deadlies strain of the virus can have a death rate of up to 90% as the oubreak recorded in 2003 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Ebolaviruses live in animal hosts and humans get ill if they eat the meat of an infected animal or get in direct contact with its fluids or feces. After Ebola reaches the human body it spreads from human-to-human only through direct contact of broken skin or mucous membranes with the infected person’s blood or other secretions like saliva, semen, urine or stools.
Odds of Ebola Pandemic
Until now, late August 2014, there have been registered the biggest ever Ebola outbreaks, in West Africa, counting 2,615 infections that caused 1,427 deaths. That’s a death rate of almost 55%.
What you need to know is that Ebola can reach the US or any other country via plane, hosted by an infected human traveler. However, there is no need to panic. The fact that this disease isn’t spread via air, water or food makes it much more less likely to cause a pandemic outside its countries of origin.
More, airline crews are instructed to recognize passengers that present signs of Ebola, flying from Africa, and to place them under immediate quarantine.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Ebola symptoms can be divided in two stages: Early and Advanced. The initial health problems caused by this infection are: high fever (with chills), fatigue, severe headache, sore throat, joint and muscle pain.
As the disease progresses later symptoms include: diarrhea (could be bloody), nausea and vomiting, skin rash, red eyes, stomach pain, impaired liver and kidney, internal and external bleeding (near death – eyes, nose, mouth and rectum).
Sadly there is no current antiviral drug that is know to cure Ebola. Hospitals can only isolate a sufferer to prevent him from infecting others and provide him with supportive treatment which aim to help the body to fight the infection. If the disease is detected in its early stages chances of survival improve because the supportive treatment can be more efficient, buying the sufferer more time to fight the illness away.
The diagnose is made by testing. Tests could be conducted to rule out other diseases like malaria or cholera. next, a blood test can be performed to confirm the presence of an ebolavirus.
The supportive medical treatment includes:
– maintaining the patient hydrated by providing fluids via infusions
– controlling blood pressure with medication
– providing oxygen via mask if needed
– replacing lost blood via transfusion
– additional treatment if other infections occur because of the weakened immune system
If you think that there is a vaccine that makes you immune to this deadly virus, we have some bad news; there isn’t! The best way to prevent ebolavirus infection is to avoid travelling to countries with known outbreaks. However, if you really do need to go follow strict hygiene rules. Avoid consuming wild animal meat including monkeys and other non-human primates.
Do note that the remains of Ebola victims remain contagious. If you’re a health care worker wear gloves, masks and goggles whenever you come in contact with an infected person.