Ebola, a rare deadly infectious disease, has been in the news a lot lately. As a result, concerns over origins, transmission, recovery, and public health and safety are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
“…Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses has not yet been identified, the way in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, scientists believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate (apes and monkeys), which is called a spillover event. Person-to-person transmission follows and can lead to large numbers of affected people.”
Ebola is spread through direct contact through blood, body fluids, and infected needles. Early symptoms typically begin within 8 to 10 days, including fever above 101.5F, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness. Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include: vomiting, abdominal pain, red eyes, raised rash, chest pain, cough, severe weight loss and unexplained bleeding or bruising.
Recovery depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many complications associated with Ebola including, multiple organ failure, bleeding, jaundice, delirium, seizures, coma, and shock. The disease is so deadly because it interferes with the immune system’s ability to create a defense. For those who recover, it is a lengthy and slow process. Recovering Ebola patients may experience hair loss, sensory changes, hepatitis, fatigue, headaches, and eye inflammation.
Protection is essential in stopping the disease from spreading. According to the CDC, U.S. citizens should avoid all nonessential travel to West Africa. For those who are traveling, the CDC offers a Travelers’ Health Ebola website. However, traveling to Africa, conducting animal research, providing medical/personal care, and preparing people for burial are considered high risk for contracting Ebola.
U.S health care and public safety organization are also taking precautions when it comes to the Ebola epidemic. For medical professionals, there are protocols in place for each hospital. The CDC also released specific protocols for first responders: “Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for Management of Patients with Known or Suspected Ebola Virus Disease in the United States.”
Join Jones & Bartlett Learning in raising awareness for this worldwide epidemic. For more information on Ebola, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website today.