Ebola is a severe illness transmitted through direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected animals or people. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. It then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.
Symptoms typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point, some people begin to have problems with bleeding.
If you stay in an area with known Ebola cases, make sure you do the following:
- 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.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.
- Monitor your health and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
There is no specific treatment for the virus; Efforts to help persons who are infected include giving them either oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids. The disease has a high mortality rate: often between 50% and 90% of those who are infected with the virus. It typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1976, when it was first identified, and 2014, fewer than 1,000 people a year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The disease was first identified in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Efforts are ongoing to develop a vaccine; however, none exists as of 2014.
Current and Past Outbreaks
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Nzara, Sudan, and Yambuku, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Previously, the majority of Ebola cases occurred in the DRC, the Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Uganda. The current Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa. It is affecting four countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Cases have also been recorded in the past in places like England in 1976 with one (1) reported case and no deaths, in the United States of America in 1994 with four (4) reported cases and no deaths and in 2004, one (1) death was reported in Russia as a result of the Ebola virus.
Ebola in Nigeria
The Government of Nigeria (GoN) declared a State of Emergency on August 8 and approved more than $11 million to combat EVD, according to international media. Nigeria’s first reported EVD case occurred when a dual Liberian–American citizen traveled from Liberia to Lagos on July 20 and died on July 25 after expressing symptoms. Nigeria had tested and confirmed 10 additional EVD cases—all individuals who had direct contact with the initial case—as of August 12, international media report.
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