The IndUS Network e-magazine


Ebola : Is the fear justified?

All you need to know

Ebola, the biggest fear gripping the western world. Is it really going to wipe a big population? It is too early to say, but it is unlikely! According to various reports, as of this publication, nearly 10,000 are infected in 3 West African countries. It is definitely a human priority to contain this outbreak otherwise it can become an epidemic.

Now, here is all you need to know about the disease and its outbreak. Let science rule over the fear!


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Why there is so much panic around E-bola?

Ebola is a rare, but deadly virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body. It is also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Ebola is named after Ebola River (a tributary of Congo river) in Democratic Republic of Congo where it originated in 1976.

There is a real panic around this outbreak because 90% of people who were infected with this disease died. As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes dropping of the blood-clotting cell levels, which invariably leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.

Moreover, it can quickly infect their immediate caretakers like their spouse, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts. This disease is killing the whole family in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. So far, this disease was occurring in rural areas but this outbreak is occurring in densely populated urban towns.

The fear is, if this outbreak is not contained, it can reach other parts of the world very soon.

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Will I get ebola if I come in contact with an infected person?

It depends on how infected the other person is. A person who has Ebola, but without symptoms cannot spread the disease. Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days (sometimes earlier) before showing symptoms of the infection. Additionally, the current strain of the virus does not spread through air, water, food or by a simple contact like handshake. Ebola spreads to humans by contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected person like blood, vomit, sweat, faeces, urine or semen. This contact can occur through a broken skin. mouth, nose, contaminated clothing, bedding of an infected person. Caretaker of a sick person or a person burying someone who died from the disease are at risk to get infected.

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What kind of symptoms one should watch for?

At first, Ebola can feel like flu. Anytime after 2nd day, real Ebola symptoms can show up. Symptoms usually include weakness, high fever, headache, muscle ache, joint ache, stomach ache, sore throat, and loss of appetite.

At later stages of the infection, it causes internal and external bleeding. Blood can ooze from eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Vomit and coughs can contain blood. Bloody diarrhea and rash can happen.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to diagnose Ebola from symptoms. Diseases like cholera and malaria needs to be ruled out. Blood test and tissue test can diagnose Ebola.

If a person has Ebola, he or she is immediately isolated from the public to prevent the spread.

Usually, fatality occurs due to multiple organ failure or dehydration.

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What kind of cure is available for an infected person?

Unfortunately there is no proven cure for this disease. Experimental drugs like ZMapp is available but it has not been 100% successful.

Right now, any infected person is immediately isolated from others and taken care in a specialy built ward by specially clad care takers.

The infected person is hydrated using Intravenous (IV) fluids and transfused with an Ebola survivor's blood.

Due to specialized health infrastructure, the success rate of treating this disease is high in developed countries than in developing countries.


What precaution I should take to protect myself from this outbreak?

CDC recommends the following precaution to protect yourself against Ebola:

- Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
- If you are from a developing country, try avoiding hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.
- After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
- Avoid non-essential travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Follow usual precautions while traveling to Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo.

You can get the latest update from CDC site.


Stay Safe!