Ebola epidemic has taken over West Africa with more than 60% of the affected people reported dead. CDC had initially issued a Level 2 alert and has now raised it to Level 3 warning urging people to avoid nonessential travel to the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Once the virus affects a human, it can spread rapidly to other people who come in contact with the infected person's body fluids such as blood, saliva and sweat. According to the WHO a single drop of sweat from the affected person can spread the virus. So travellers coming back to their homeland after international travel can carry the virus and can be potentially contagious.
Any traveller who shows the symptoms and signs of the disease like fever, joint pain, and headache with muscle weakness should be put in isolation. If the person has shown the signs of bleeding, necessary blood and platelet products have to be procured for treatment.
However, please remember that Ebola does not spread from person to person via air. You would not acquire Ebola from casual contact with an infected person. It also does not spread through food or water. While the state employs the necessary control measures, the general public has an important role to play especially when you have someone coming back from travel.
People should be educated about the spread of the virus.
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- EVD outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90%.
- EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
- Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.
- No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
Signs & 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.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
Precautions you can take to protect yourself:
- Wearing of protective clothing (such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles)
- The use of infection-control measures (such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant)
- Isolation of Ebola HF patients from contact with unprotected persons
- Avoid eating bush meat
- Avoid travel to affected areas
- Avoid hugging and shaking hands with potentially infected people
- Frequent hand washing ensures better protection against all infections
- Do not lick hands or bite nails
- Wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them
Continue taking these precautions everyday till the local public health authorities confirm the control of the virus. Follow up with your doctor for any other personal concerns like rash, red eyes, hiccups, sore throat etc. The prognosis of the disease is not good and the mortality rate is huge during epidemics.
Standard treatment for Ebola HF is still limited to supportive therapy. This consists of:
- Balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes
- Maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure
- Treating them for any complicating infections
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