Ebola is one of the most life threatening disease in existence. Previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is caused by the infection with one of the various strains of Ebola. It causes diseases in both humans and non-humans but is only restricted to primates.
There are five identified strains of the Ebola virus that pose a threat to the human being. These are the Sudan Virus, Ebola Virus (Zaire Ebola virus), Tai Forest virus, Reston virus and the Bundibugyo virus. First discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the present day Democratic Republic of Congo, the viruses have since spread and are now found in various African countries. Since its discovery the natural reservoir hasn’t been identified though it is generally believed to be animal borne.
Signs and symptoms.
There are various symptoms that indicate the infection of a human being by the Ebola virus. The symptoms include;
• Muscle pain.
• Severe headache.
• Abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
• Unexplained hemorrhage.
These symptoms may appear anytime between 2- 22 days after contact or exposure to the virus. It is possible to recover from the virus but this largely on the speed of response, the clinical care you get and the patient’s immune system.
As earlier pointed out. The natural reservoir host of the Ebola virus has not been identified and therefore the first appearance in human beings at the onset of the outbreak is unknown. Scientists however believe that the first patient came into contact with the virus during a spill over event, that is, contact with a host. The virus will then spread from here to other humans through contact. This can happen through broken skin, mucus and other bodily fluids.
The Ebola virus is not spread through the air, neither is it waterborne nor food borne. There is no evidence that it can be transmitted by mosquitoes but it can surely be transmitted through handling bush meat and even contact with infected bats.
Health care givers dealing with Ebola patients are at the greatest risk of contracting the virus. During outbreaks, the virus spreads very fast in health care centers like dispensaries, clinics and hospitals.
When a person recovers from the virus, they cannot pose a risk to other members in the community. However the virus can stay in semen and therefore it is important to abstain from all forms of sex for 3 months.
There is no approved vaccine for the Ebola virus. In the event you travel to areas where you are at risk of contracting the virus, take care of yourself by ensuring the following;
• Practicing hygiene. Proper washing of your hands, with soap and water or a disinfectant with an alcohol based sanitizer.
• Don’t handle anything that has come into content with an infected person.
• Avoid contact with bush meat from areas with reported outbreak.
• Wear appropriate protective clothing.
• Practice proper sterilization.
• Notify health officials in case you have come into contact with bodily fluids of infected persons.