With the current Ebola epidemic, I think it is important for people to know some facts about ebola as well as the signs and symptoms. Ebola (previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) was first discovered in 1976 along the Ebola River and since then, outbreaks have occured only sporadically in Africa. Past Ebola outbreaks have occured in the following countries:
* Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
* South Sudan
* Ivory Coast
* Republic of the Congo (ROC)
* South Africa (imported)
When an infection occurs, it is transmitted through direct contact (broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes, for example, eyes, nose, or mouth) with:
* blood or body fluids (including but not limited to blood, urine, feces, urine, saliva, semen, or sweat)
* objects (such as needles or syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
* infected fruit bats, apes, or monkeys
Ebola is NOT spread through the air or by water. There are only a few species of mammals (humans, bats, apes, and monkeys for example) that have been shown to be able to become infected with the Ebola virus and spread it.
Once people recover from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. People caring for Ebola patients are at the highest risk of contracting the disease because they may come in contact with infected blood and body fluids of those that are sick. Dedicated medical equipment (including disposable gloves) should be used. Proper sterilization and disposal of instruments such as needles and syringes is also very important. Without proper sterilization of instruments, virus transmission will continue to spread.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
* Someone infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear.
* Symptoms usually appear anywhere from 2-21 days after exposure.
* Symptoms include: fever, severe headache, fatigue, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
* Diagnosing someone who has only been infected for a few days is difficult because the early symptoms such as fever are nonspecific to Ebola and can be seen in patients with many other illnesses.
* If someone has early symptoms of Ebola and there is reason to believe they may have the Ebola virus (for example if they have recently visited an area where there was an outbreak) they should be isolated and public health professionals should be notiifed.
* No FDA approved vaccine or medicine is available for Ebola
* Providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes
* Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
* Treating other infections if they occur
Recovery from the Ebola virus depends on the care received and the patient's immune system. People who recover from the Ebola virus develop antibodies that last 10 years or possibly longer. It is not known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can possibly become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long term complications such as joint or vision problems.
* Practice careful hygiene (wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer)
* Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids
* Avoid facilities where Ebola patients are being treated
* Avoid funeral or burial rituals of someone who was infected with the Ebola virus
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