Ebola 101

Ebola has been in the news a lot lately so we thought we would take the opportunity to explore a little more about what this virus. Since the out break earlier this year, the epidemic has claimed 932 lives and infected more than 1700 people across West Africa according to the World Health Organisation and has overwhelmed local doctors and hospitals.

So why is it spreading so quickly?

Ebola is transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids like saliva, blood or sweat and the virus can even be detected in a man’s semen for up to two months after an infection! So the first people to become infected are usually family members caring for the ill or medical workers who don’t wear the correct protection. The main reason why this outbreak has spread so quickly is because of West Africa’s the poor public sanitation and little education on how the virus spreads.

Quarantined Home
Quarantined Home

The disease has a high mortality rate, often between 50 percent and 90 percent which is why so many people have lost their lives. If an infected person survives, recovery may be quick and complete. Prolonged cases are often complicated by the occurrence of long-term problems, such as inflammation of the testicles, joint pains, muscle pains, skin peeling, or hair loss.

No Ebola virus specific treatments exist at this present moment in time and treatment is primarily supportive in nature which includes minimizing invasive procedures, balancing fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration. Administration of anticoagulants early in infection to prevent or control disseminated intravascular coagulation, administration of pro-coagulants late in infection to control bleeding, maintaining oxygen levels, pain management and the use of medications to treat bacterial or fungal secondary infections. Early treatment may increase the chance of survival. A number of experimental treatments are being studied.

SEM of Ebola
SEM of Ebola

If you live in the west don’t panic just yet as thanks to our high sanitation standards and medical facilities an outbreak is unlikely and if you want something more feasible to panic about how about the seasonal flu as this will kill between 250,000 to 500,000 of us globally each year and we aren’t talking about swine-flu or bird-flu, this is just the normal flu!

Stay Curious – C.Costigan

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