A deadly virus that was discovered nearly 40 years ago has recently surfaced again in Congo, with a death toll of more than 27 people since April. Since then, aid agencies and health experts are sharing everything to know about Ebola to locals and the global community in the hope of containing a possible global outbreak.
As with all health issues and conditions, it’s good to arm yourself with trusted knowledge when you are a parent. In this article, you’ll learn about this dangerous virus, including symptoms and treatment.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a serious disease which often results in fatality if untreated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the genera Ebolavirus hails from the virus family Filoviridae.
However, these three species within the genus Ebolavirus, have been associated with outbreaks affecting thousands of people in Africa:
- Bundibugyo ebolavirus
- Zaire ebolavirus
- Sudan ebolavirus
How Does Ebola Spread?
Everything to know about Ebola and the three species that result in fatality
The virus is highly infectious and spreads by direct contact with bodily fluids as well as secretions.
Infection can happen through broken skin, via the mouth and even the nose. The virus can also spread through blood, vomit, urine, semen and feces of someone with Ebola.
Healthcare workers and burial caretakers are always at risk due to contaminated bedding, clothing as well as other surfaces.
To ensure the virus is killed, all soiled sheets, clothing and surfaces are constantly disinfected with bleach because once the virus is in the bloodstream, a person will always carry the virus.
Even in its highly contagious state, thankfully Ebola is not airborne like the flu virus. Despite everything to know about Ebola, this disease is still known to cause high death rates when it is not contained quickly.
Everything to Know About Ebola: The Symptoms
Everything to know about Ebola: early symptoms includes headaches
The incubation period before a person starts being infectious and showing symptoms is between two to 21 days.
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- impaired kidney and liver functions
In some cases, the patient may also experience:
- internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools)
- low white blood cell and platelet counts
- elevated liver enzymes
Possible Ebola Treatments in the Near Future
Despite everything to know about Ebola, there is still no proven cure.
Currently, there is no known cure for Ebola.
Potential vaccines are still being tested in hopes to protect healthcare workers first.
Other efforts in finding a cure include blood products from survivors as well as vaccine testing on humans after successful trials with monkeys.
It is still unknown what factors allow some patients to survive while most succumb to the disease. Healthcare workers can only help to reduce the risk of dehydration by giving severely affected patients intravenous fluids.
However, countries often affected by the Ebola virus tend to have weak health systems anyway. They face a shortage of qualified medical help and lack the appropriate equipment and resources to deal with the virus.
Prevention steps include early interventions and constant monitoring to contain the virus and reduce the chance of an outbreak.
Risk reduction should focus on:
- animal-to-human transmission (by consumption)
- human-to-human transmission (by close and direct contact)
- possible sexual transmission
- prompt and safe burial of the dead
Until there is a proven cure for Ebola, healthcare workers will need to continue to provide early intensive care to infected patients in isolation.
Here in the Philippines, Should I Be Worried About Ebola?
There have been no known cases of Ebola in the Philippines. However, if you or your family/friends are planning to travel to West African countries where the virus is prevalent, a) try to postpone your trip during outbreaks; b) if you cannot postpone your trip, practice good hygiene such as frequent hand-washing. You should also know that fruit bats, monkeys and apes are carriers of this virus.
If you have visited an Ebola-affected country in the last 21 days, be aware of the symptoms we describe above, especially if they are accompanied with vomiting and diarrhoea. Visit a doctor without delay if these symptoms exhibit. The only way to confirm the disease is by lab tests.
Sources: BBC, WHO
Read also: Research says that Ebola virus mutated specifically to target humans
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore