FACTS ABOUT EBOLA
In Africa, as news of Ebola continue to scare, and more people succumb to infection; cultural beliefs, religious attitudes and ignorance are once again preventing many people from accessing factual scientific knowledge on what Ebola is and taking measures to prevent additional transmissions.
WHAT IS EBOLA
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical forests.
Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
VACCINE AND TREATMENT
No licensed vaccine for EVD is available. Several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.
No specific treatment is available. New drug therapies are being evaluated.
Avoid areas of known outbreaks
Wash hands frequently
Avoid contact with infected people
Follow infection-control procedures
Don’t handle the bodies of people who have died of Ebola. Only specially trained teams should bury the remains
Source of Information: World Health Organization
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