Ebola ravaged sub-Saharan Africa and filled the world with fear as the death toll continues to rise. It spreads like wildfire and quickly became endemic. The death toll has reached approximately 5,000 worldwide, and there has been one reported death in the United States. Furthermore, it has a 90% fatality rate. Therefore, it continues to be a global health concern today. However, the endemic hit Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia the hardest. Additionally, the disease destroyed the social fabric. According to Fassour Isidor Lama, a UNICEF officer, “We noticed that with this crisis, which is almost a humanitarian catastrophe, people flee their villages and abandon their families and their children.”
The World Health Organization documented that Ebola is animal-borne. Fruit bats from the Pteropodidae family are the primary carriers of the disease. Bats carry a lot of diseases because they lack bone marrow. Therefore they don’t have an immune system. The bats carrying the virus can infect other animals such as monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, porcupines, and forest antelope. Many people contract the disease simply from handling these animals.
Additionally, it transmits between humans via bodily fluids. The virus in the fluids seeps through the broken skin and mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth. Many people get Ebola from touching infected body fluids or objects contaminated with it. It is commonly spread through funeral practices in some countries. When an individual dies, it is often customary to hug and touch their bodies in some cultures. When people mourn an individual who died of Ebola, they often contract the disease.
Ebola can kill its host in 12 days. At approximately the seventh day, the patient will experience headaches, fatigue, fever, and muscle soreness. By the tenth day, they will have a sudden high fever and vomit blood. These symptoms severely increase until the patient has bruising, brain damage, bleeding from body apertures (nose, mouth, eyes, and anus), seizures, loss of consciousness, and massive internal bleeding.
Individuals who survive Ebola have chronic side effects such as lethargy, muscle soreness, vision problems, and stomach pain. Furthermore, in many cultures, there is a negative stigma towards those who survived the virus.
There currently isn’t a successful vaccine or treatment. However, there is an experimental vaccine that has been successful in trials conducted by the World Health Organization. While there isn’t a treatment, there are preventative measures people can take to stop the spread of the disease. If you are in an area where there is an Ebola outbreak, wash and sanitize your hands frequently. Furthermore, avoid contact with bodily fluids such as blood, feces, and vomit.
Additionally, it can be sexually transmitted. Also, avoid contact with wildlife, and don’t eat bush meat and fruit that has previously been eaten by an animal. If you are a traveler, monitor your health for 21 days after you get home and immediately seek medical care if you exhibit any symptoms of Ebola.
Before Ebola devestated West Africa, it first struck a toddler in Guinea. The 2-year old boy, named Emile Ouamouno, contracted the disease in 1976 by accidentally eating fruit that had been infected by a bat. While nobody knew of the toddler before, he is now known as patient-zero. In December, Emile had a fever, vomiting and black stool. Sadly, Emile passed away four days later. During his burial, most of his family touched his body through funeral preparations and hugging his body. Within a month, the toddler’s mother, three-year old sister, and grandmother contracted the disease, which eventually took their lives.
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Resources:https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html, https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/about.html, http://www.who.int/ebola/en/, https://mphdegree.usc.edu/resources/infographics/how-ebola-spreads/, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/, https://www.cnn.com/2014/10/28/health/ebola-patient-zero/index.html
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