Ebola facts and awareness

EBOLA FACTS AND AWARENESS

With the virus Ebola in the news a lot recently and I have had a few questions about it. I wanted to share some of the Ebola virus facts and awareness. Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. The 2014 is the worst Ebola outbreak on record is currently unfolding in West Africa, and it’s been a long affair that has infected more than 1,000, killed more than 700 people, and has yet to show any signs of slowing down. Here’s the most basic facts you should know about Ebola:

Ebola spreads through close contact The disease is usually acquired when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal such as a monkey or fruit bat. You are not likely to catch Ebola just by being in proximity with someone who has the virus; it is not airborne, like the flu or respiratory viruses such as SARS.

People with Ebola generally aren’t infectious until they’re sick Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days but usually appear in 8 to 10 days.

Ebola doesn’t change as fast as some other viruses. The virus can survive on surfaces for a long period of time, so any object contaminated with bodily fluids, like a latex glove or a hypodermic needle, may spread the disease

People can survive Ebola. But the fatality rate is very high and varies from 40-90% fatality rate for people who contract Ebola.

Transmission

Because the natural reservoir of ebola viruses has not yet been proven, the manner in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, researchers have hypothesized that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal. When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways in which the virus can be transmitted to others. These include:

· direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person

· exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions

The viruses that cause Ebola are often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with infectious secretions when caring for ill persons. During recent outbreak of Ebola , the disease can spread quickly within health care settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to ebola viruses can occur in health care settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves. Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate sterilization of the instruments, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus though 8-10 days is most common. Some who become sick with Ebola are able to recover, while others do not. The reasons behind this are not yet fully understood. However, it is known that patients who die usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus at the time of death. Signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly with Ebola virus. Early signs and symptoms include:

· Fever

· Severe headache

· Joint and muscle aches

· Chills

· Weakness

Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

· Nausea and vomiting

· Diarrhea (may be bloody)

· Red eyes

· Raised rash

· Chest pain and cough

· Stomach pain

· Severe weight loss

· Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices)

· Internal bleeding

· Multiple organ failure

· Seizures

· Coma

· Shock

One reason the viruses are so deadly is that they interfere with the immune system’s ability to mount a defense. But scientists don’t understand why some people recover from Ebola and others don’t. For people who survive, recovery is slow. It may take months to regain weight and strength, and the viruses remain in the body for weeks. People may experience:

· Hair loss

· Sensory changes

· Liver inflammation (hepatitis)

· Weakness

· Fatigue

· Headaches

· Eye inflammation

Risk of Exposure

In Africa, confirmed cases of Ebola HF have been reported in:

· Guinea

· Liberia

· Sierra Leone

· Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

· Gabon

· South Sudan

· Ivory Coast

· Uganda

· Republic of the Congo (ROC)

· South Africa (imported)

The natural reservoir host of ebola viruses, and the manner in which transmission of the virus to humans occurs, remain unknown. This makes risk assessment in endemic areas difficult. With the exception of several laboratory contamination cases (one in England and two in Russia), all cases of human illness or death have occurred in Africa; no case has been reported in the United States

What’s the cure for Ebola?

Right now, there isn’t one. Doctors typically provide supportive care to patients, which may include oxygen, blood transfusion and fluids and treating subsequent infections. All physicians can do is try to nurse people through the illness, using fluids and medicines to maintain blood pressure, and treat other infections that often strike their weakened bodies. Experimental serums are being tested, an American woman just received an experimental serum.

Could Ebola spread beyond West Africa to the United States or Europe?

Theoretically, a person infected with Ebola but experiencing no symptoms could fly outside the region. But experts say even if an infected person did arrive in the United States, the disease would be unlikely to spread. The CDC has issued an alert to doctors and hospitals across the country, urging them to ask about the travel history of any patients who present with Ebola-like symptoms. Any infected person could be quickly put in isolation.

Information provided by CDC, WHO, Mayo clinic and WebMd.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security for Plateau

keno@plateautel.com

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