Ebola: The Facts And Fears


You can get Ebola from the exchange of bodily fluids with an infected person. You can’t get Ebola by sitting next to someone who has it.

Cara Poythress '15, Features Editor

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is a severe, often fatal illness that is transmitted to people from wild animals. It spreads in the human population through bodily transmission; this disease has an average fatality rate of about 50 percent, though many people are optimistic about the possibilities for treatment and survival.

Dr. Ada Igonoh, who contracted Ebola in Nigeria after treating an American who died of the disease in July, the head of the Ebola Emergency Center, gave her opinion to The Huffington Post. “Even [though] there is no known cure for Ebola, or no known vaccine, usually people are treated symptomatically and once the symptoms can be treated and dehydration is aggressively treated, or prevented, the possibility of living is quite high,” she said.

The current outbreak (first cases notified in March of 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola virus, which was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined, currently amounting to 2,600 fatalities. On August 8th, the WHO General Director declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people and with surfaces and materials (e. g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. Burial ceremonies win which mourners have direct contact with body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids contain the virus.

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2-21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e. g. oozing gums, bloody stools).

Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilization.

Knowing the symptoms, as well knowing the important facts about Ebola can save lives. It’s key to understand the virus that is scaring so many people across the world. Conquering the knowledge of Ebola is the first step to conquering the fear.

All information retained from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/ada-igonoh-survivor-ebola_n_5864156.html and http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/.