Anyone watching the news lately has been sure to have heard about the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. The infectious and often fatal disease is not staying contained in one area.
Two Americans, both working for faith-based aid organizations in West Africa, were infected and transferred back to the United States. The World Health Organization called the Ebola virus “one of the world’s most virulent diseases.” It has labeled this outbreak an international public health emergency.
As of August 6, 2014, there have been 1,779 cases of Ebola virus with 961 of the cases being fatal. There is so much information about this disease, but here are the top five facts you need to know.
1) What is Ebola?
The Ebola virus causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) which first appeared nearly 40 years ago. This infectious disease has an extremely high mortality rate of approximately 60 percent. The hemorrhagic fever causes severe internal and external bleeding. It has a long incubation period of between 8 to 21 days.
2) How is the Ebola virus spread?
This virus is NOT airborne, waterborne, or foodborne. Ebola is spread through contact with infected secretions (like urine, blood, diarrhea, vomit or sweat) either directly or through contaminated needles, medical equipment or other surfaces.
A patient infected with the Ebola virus is only contagious once he or she starts showing signs of suffering from the disease.
3) Where did the Ebola virus come from?
Unfortunately, the root cause of the virus is not known. However, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne, with fruit bats being the most likely cause.
4. How does one prevent the Ebola virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is difficult to prevent the Ebola virus because it is still not known the exact way people are infected with the virus.
Health care workers need to know how to identify the signs of the virus immediately and to use standard sterilized equipment and protective clothing such as masks, gloves and gowns.