By now, everyone in the world has heard of the disease, Ebola, which seems to be taking parts of Africa by storm resulting in multiple deaths and large areas of quarantine.
Currently, there are two affected doctors who were in Africa and are now back in the United States receiving treatment, which has caused some uproar and misconceptions about this potentially global pandemic.
It is important that the facts about Ebola are separated from the myths in order to be better educated. As Dr. Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security has stated, “It is not mysterious. It can be stopped.”
1) Ebola is a virus. This means that typical antibiotics that would kill a bacterial infection will not work against it. Unfortunately, current antiviral medications such as those against HIV, hepatitis C or herpes do not work either.
There are currently experimental drugs being used but they are limited in quantity and research at this time.
2) Symptoms of the Ebola virus are similar to the flu. Infected individuals typically have high fevers, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This loss of fluids alone can lead to electrolyte imbalance, dehydration and death.
Additionally, the virus itself affects the lining of the blood vessels which can cause hemorrhaging (bleeding out) in about half of those affected.
Keep in mind that everyone with flu-like symptoms does NOT have Ebola.
3) Ebola is transmitted through contact with body fluids. This means someone would have had to directly come in contact with an infected person who had been to Africa or had personally been to Africa themselves.
As many airlines and international programs, including Doctors Without Borders, and the Peace Corps are removing their representatives there, the likelihood of being allowed entrance into the affected regions is extremely limited.
Those looking to leave the area are being screened and often kept in isolation until it is determined that they are symptom-free.