The media has done its job in informing the general U.S. public that there is an Ebola epidemic going on in West Africa, but few know much about this actual disease or how one could help. Here is the bigger picture:
This actually is not our first rodeo; Ebola made its first recorded appearance in Sudan and Conga circa 1976. The mortality rate back then for this contagion could be as high as 88%. Luckily, today, the typical mortality rate has dipped to 47%. This significant improvement is most likely due to the nature of Ebola’s transmission. Ebola is spread through direct contact (i.e. through broken skin or membranous tissues) with contaminated fluids such as blood, and a variety of bodily secretions of humans or animals. Since the 70’s, it has become mandated amongst medical professionals to enforce prevention techniques to lessen the chances of spreading diseases such as Ebola. Right now, this particular practice is especially important because nearly every case in the 2014 outbreak was a result of human-to-human transmission.
Ebola symptomology is depicted by sudden sore throat, fever, muscle pain, headache and weakness. These earlier symptoms are often followed by impaired organ function, diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases internal and external bleeding. Most people will “incubate” the virus in 2-21 hours, after which time he or she will begin experiencing symptoms. An interesting attribute to the virus is that those infected will remain contagious until no trace of the virus remains in his or her blood or secretions. Even if cured, the Ebola virus may still lay dormant and contagious in a person’s bodily fluids several months later.
This is by far the worst Ebola outbreak in history—the death toll for confirmed cases was 1528 on the 22nd of August. The world’s response to this Ebola outbreak has also made history, however, with thousands of people and multiple organizations lending hands and (in hundreds of cases) their lives, in an effort to eradicate this West African plague. Several organizations, such as UNICEF and WHO, have reached out to millions of people spreading information, soap, and support for those affected. These guys do however need support and advocacy from readers just like you, so spread the word!
If you would like to learn more about these organizations or more about the situation in general, please follow the links below: