Ebola first emerged in 1976. It was spread rapidly by personal contact and contaminated needles in hospitals and clinics. The two subtypes, Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan, killed 88% and 53% respectively of the victims.
What is Ebola? This is a hemorrhagic virus. Early symptoms include intense headache, fever, chills, muscle and joint pain and weakness. Later symptoms include nausea, vomiting, red eyes, chest pain, coughing, rash and bleeding from the nose, mouth, rectum, eyes and ears. In some cases, blood comes out through skin pores.
Where is it now? There are three countries with outbreaks. Those are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These countries are now beginning a new wave of outbreaks. So far, 528 people are known to be infected with 337 dead.
What is being done? WHO (World Health Organization) is working on communication between the countries with active outbreaks, giving technical advice and providing help in preventing more infections from or to those who are working with Ebola patients. They will have another “cross border” meeting with officials on June 23, 2014.
Are there any travel restrictions? At this time WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions. While the disease is highly communicable, you have to come into physical contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has the disease. It’s possible to become infected if you travel to any of these countries but it is highly unlikely.
Should we be worried? Yes and no. As mentioned, catching the virus isn’t that easy unless there’s personal contact. However, there is something that may become a concern. Ebola Reston.
What is Ebola Reston? Ebola Reston was found in a monkey house in Reston, VA. This is a suburb of Washington D.C. The scary part of this outbreak isn’t so much its proximity to Washington as it is that the disease was airborne. It spread via ductwork into every monkey room. No contact necessary.
Ebola Reston didn’t kill any humans, though thirteen did test positive for antibodies. All of them were asymptomatic.
How should we react? At the moment, there’s no reason to be afraid. The chances of an outbreak of Ebola are much less than the dangers posed by diseases we can actually prevent. However, there is reason to be work for a means of preventing this disease.