Understanding Ebola

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Diseases have always co-existed with humans and animals. Over the years man has given the diseases a tough fight and conquered most of them. Back in the days, man lost battle to epidemics like cholera, fell prey to polio and other infections. But with the advent of science and technology, we developed vaccines for polio, small pox; chicken pox etc and these diseases almost have disappeared from the face of the planet. When on one hand we defeated so many fatal diseases, on the other hand we also came across newer and deadlier ones. Cancer is one such disease and so is AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for which we do not have a cure in spite of all the advances in technology and health care divisions. When the world was fighting with these, another epidemic brought its wrath – EBOLA.ebola

Since the past year, the news papers, blogs, media is over flooded with the incidences related to Ebola. This disease has spread its wing so swiftly that it has emerged as an epidemic and right now it is destroying lives in West Africa. We are sure, you must be having many questions pertaining to Ebola. We will try our best to bring to you a clear picture of this deadly disease.

History of Ebola: -

It was in the year 1976 when Ebola first dug its deathly fangs. It has been seen that the diseases is always an outbreak and it strikes the Sub Saharan African belt. The first outbreak was the Sudan Outbreak that lasted from June to November in 1976 in South Sudan. The virus was termed as Sudan Virus. Overall stats revealed that about 284 people were infected out of which 151 died. In June 1976 came the first identifiable case of Ebola which stated very clearly that WHO was dealing with a new disease.

The second outbreak was in Republic of Congo in Yambuku in Zaire on 26 August 1976. This time the virus was called the Zaire Virus. Not the infected patient but also the people who were in contact with him died and this caused a red alert in the entire village. Gradually, 318 cases came to the front out of which 280 died which gives it a death rate of 88%.

After studying the samples from both the incidents, this virus was given the name EBOLA which is the name of a river, Ebola, in close proximity with Zaire.

Again in the year 1995, Zaire was hit by Ebola.  This time 315 people fell prey, out of which 254 lost their lives.

In 2000, in Uganda, 425 cases were reported and 254 were fatalities reported.

In 2007, 4 villages were affected by Ebola eventually taking lives of 187 people out of the 264 reported cases.

The present outbreak of Ebola is the biggest one so far in the history of Ebola. This time it is the West African country, Guinea. This later s[spread to Sierra and Leone. It started with the death of a 2 year old child in December 2013 and by 23 December 2014, 19, 648 cases have been suspected out of which 7, 645 people have already died.

Signs and Symptoms of Ebola.

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  • It takes a period of 2 to 21 days for the symptoms to appear after an exposure to the Ebola virus. The most common window is of 4 to 10 days.
  • The symptoms begin with fever, weakness, feeling tired, and loss of appetite, joint pain, muscle pain, sore throat and headache.
  • These influenza like symptoms are followed by diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. A person may also experience chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • After 5 o 7 days of symptoms, skin might show rashes as well. Some patients have also reported external and internal bleeding. Patients have also showed delayed blood clotting.
  • 40 to 50 % of patient’s have shown bleeding from mucous membranes which can cause coughing up blood, blood while vomiting, or blood in stool.
  • It has been seen that the patient starts recovering after a week or two. If a person dies it has been seen that it occurs between the 6 to 16 days from the onset of symptoms.
  • It has been observed that survivors usually have hearing problems, liver disorders, joint pain, muscle pain, feeling week, tired, difficulty is gaining back the weight etc.

How does Ebola spread?

  • Ebola is a virus which spreads by coming in direct contact with the infected person or in contact with his body fluids like blood, saliva, semen, breast milk, tears, urine and feces.
  • World Health Organization which is monitoring Ebola outbreaks very closely has stated that Ebola can spread through saliva only if the person is very sick. It has also been reported sweat cannot be a medium for whole Ebola virus.
  • Ebola can also spread through contaminated syringes and needles.
  • Even a survivor needs to be very careful. A full Ebola virus can stay alive in the semen of a person for about 8 weeks. So one needs to be careful before getting involved physically.

Cure and Prevention: -

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  • One needs to avoid any kind of contact with an infected person.
  • Wear masks, gloves and protective clothing while dealing with infected people.
  • Make sure that the gloves and disposables are taken care of appropriately.
  • Even the people, who have died with Ebola, are a carrier of the virus. Hence the bodies need to be disposed of properly and people dealing with the religious ceremonies at this time need to be careful.
  • At the time of any contact with any affected person, make sure you are wearing gloves and you wash hands properly after getting done with the work.

Ebola still does not have a cure hence prevention is the only way out. The only way to escape it to take all the necessary precautions. Do not ignore even the smallest symptom. Take immediate medical care even  if it is a normal flu because Ebola starts with small symptoms and then turns vicious.

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