Ebola Epidemic: Causes, Symptoms and Precautionary Measures

Margarita FolkPosted by
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The Ebola virus disease (EVD) that has wreaked havoc across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is considered “a severe, often fatal illness in humans” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It weakens the immune system and causes bleeding inside and outside the body. In fact, it puts even health workers at risk if they are properly protected.

Previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Ebola was first reported way back in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

What Causes Ebola

It is believed that the fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family living in tropical rainforests are the natural hosts of the EVD. This deadly virus is transmitted to people from wild animals as well as through other infected humans. It was passed on to humans by coming in close contact with the secretions, sweat, blood and other bodily fluids of EVD infected humans and various infected animals which include fruit bats, porcupines, chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys found either sick or dead in and around tropical rainforests. Other ways to getting infected with Ebola is by touching contaminated needles.

It’s also true that Ebola is less contagious than other diseases; it is transmitted by bodily fluids, not by air, water or mosquitoes. In other words, Ebola doesn’t spread by just being in proximity with someone infected. It’s not like the flu. As mentioned above, there has to be direct contact with the bodily fluids. In recent times, most of the cases reported have occurred in people who were nursing their infected family members and also those who prepared an EVD infected dead body for burial.

Signs and symptoms

At first, Ebola may feel like normal flu or any illness. But symptoms begin to appear few days after getting infected. These symptoms include fever, joints and muscle pain, acute weakness, stomach pain, lack of appetite, sore throat and headache.

As the situation aggravates and the Ebola infection worsens; the patient begins to experience diarrhea, vomiting, impaired liver function, rashes and worse of all internal and external bleeding.

Some patients may also experience red eyes, chest pain, hiccups, trouble in breathing and swallowing.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Several tests are conducted to diagnose Ebola such as serum neutralization test, antigen detection test, electron microscopy and so on. There is no vaccine available to cure Ebola virus. Infected patients generally experience dehydration often. They require intensive care and need to be given oral rehydration solutions (ORS) containing electrolytes that helps treat dehydration in EVD patients.

Hope of Vaccine

There is no proven vaccine to cure Ebola. But many doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine have been developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada. The WHO has approved using the untested vaccine, calling it ethical to use it at such times.

As Dr. Marie-PauleKieny, an assistant director-general at WHO said in a press conference, “If there are drugs that can save lives… shouldn’t we use them to save lives?” But she added, “(It is) very important to not give false hope to anybody that Ebola can be treated now. This is absolutely not the case.”

Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. During the break out of epidemics, it becomes all the more necessary to take preventive measures seriously. The WHO has urged for strong measures to be taken to curb the outbreak, else the virus can spread from Africa to other regions as well.

Restricting the movement of Ebola infected animals from farms to other areas may help curb the spread of the virus.

Avoid getting in close contact with EVD infected patients. Take good care of patients or any infected member of family but make sure you use gloves and other protective equipment so that you end up getting infected with Ebola. Wash your hands after visiting patients in hospital.

Taking precautions with air purifiers

Ebola is a warning sign of the delicate state of Africa’s health and sanitation systems that have seen slow development due to chronic poverty, illiteracy, neglect, ignorance about health measures afflicting the region. As result, the fragile health system is unable to cope up adequately with epidemic outbreaks. The hospitals and health workers are under-equipped and under-staffed to handle such emergencies.

Though the Ebola virus is not airborne or does not spread through water either, the outbreak of the epidemic does reiterate the need to keep our environment safe and healthy and to take adequate precautionary measures.

Airborne pathogens or allergens often cause inflammation in the nose, throat, sinuses and the lungs. These airborne pollutants could be viruses, bacteria, pollen, dust mites, smoke, and molds that affect health and weaken immune system.Many common infections can spread by airborne transmission at least in some cases including Anthrax (inhalational), Chickenpox, Influenza, Measles, Smallpox and Tuberculosis.Personal air purifiers emit healthy negative ions that help remove airborne pollutants away from your personal space providing you with cleaner and healthier air.

Air purifiers act as a preventive guard against airborne pathogens. Whether you are going to the supermarket or traveling; use travel air purifier to keep yourself safe from any virus or pollutants.

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Source by Troy A Anderson