Image by: Public Domain Pictures
By Robert Spencer
If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably heard all about the largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which is happening now in West Africa (specifically Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone). As of July 25th, Patrick Sawyer was the first American to pass away from the deadly disease. His death really brought worldwide attention to what’s going on in Africa right now.
#1) Will It Come Here?
With the death of Sawyer (the first American to die of the deadly disease) everyone is starting to take notice in the spread of the disease. It hasn’t officially ever caused a disease or outbreak in the states and many suspect that it won’t actually leave Africa because of the knowledge of the disease. Informed scientists, doctors, and researchers will likely keep the virus contained.
Even though researchers have caught the Ebola-Reston (which doesn’t cause symptoms in anyone other than monkeys) in Virginia after a batch of infected monkeys were sent from the Philippines, no one has ever died from the disease on American soil.
#2) So What is Ebola, Exactly?
It was originally called the Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever but has since changed to the Ebola virus disease (EVD). Symptoms include fever, intense weakness, headache, muscle pain, and sore throat – at first. After that, those symptoms will be joined by diarrhea, vomiting, inpaired kidney and liver function, and rash. In most cases internal and external bleeding also follow. The incubation period can last anywhere from 2 days to 20 days.
The natural host for Ebola are thought to be the fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family. While there was an initial (one) animal to human transmission, it is now spreading through the human population by human to human contact.
#3) Is there a Cure for Ebola
No, there isn’t a cure for Ebola. People who are infected with Ebola are treated with therapy until they pass away (usually within 10 days or so). There is a lot of research going on in order to try and find a cure. However, even though there is no known cure, scientists know enough about the disease to stop it in its tracks.
#4) A Little History Lesson To Help Stop the Spread
The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 in the Congo (however there were two simultaneous oubreaks including on in Nzara). Scientists and researchers were baffled at what was going on. A teacher (who people suspected was afflicted with it after butchering an animal that he had bought from the local market) went into a hospital with what they had originally thought was dysentery and a nosebleed.
They injected him with a medicine (in a hospital which had only 4 needles and syringes). Because of the poor health practices, the disease spread throughout the hospital, first in the maternity ward, then throughout the building. Some 280 people died (a lot of which were the hospital workers).
There have been over 3140 reported cases of Ebola (more are suspected of being unreported cases), 2000 deaths, and about 10 outbreaks (of more than one person) total, all within Central and West Africa.
All of these outbreaks could have been avoided with proper contamination preparation, proper hospital practices, and a little bit of knowledge. So here’s to washing your hands and not sharing hypodermic needles, everyone.
In Africa, one of the main reasons of outbreak is due to the fruit bats which love their pig farms. The fruit bats contaminate the pigs, which contaminate people. Organizations like WTO are trying desperately to inform everyone of safe practices in order to stop the current outbreak and to discourage any future outbreaks.
#5) What About This Latest Outbreak?
The latest outbreak has been in three locations: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. According to CNN.com (in an article that was posted on their website last Monday), in Sierra Leone there have been about 224 deaths. In Guinea, there have been about 319 deaths, and In Liberia, there have been 129 deaths.
If you want to help with the efforts, consider stopping by Map.Org or DirectRelief to see how you can aid in the efforts. Even just $25 can help to outfit a health provider with the proper equipment (to help patients and keep himself safe) for a day.
Now it’s your turn. Do you know of a way that we can help with the efforts of the doctors, scientists, and researchers who are in West Africa right now? We’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, ideas, or tips please leave them in the comment section below.