What you need to know about Ebola


What you need to know about Ebola
Health officials chat with an Ebola suspect at Bundibugyo Hospital isolation camp

By Lutaya Shafiq

THE deadly Ebola virus has so far killed 14 people in western Uganda including one from Kampala, according to Ugandan health officials.

‘Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute … have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever,’ the Ugandan government and the World Health Organisation said in a joint statement.

President Yoweri Museveni has today called on people to avoid physical contact, after the deadly virus spread to the capital.

He also said seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital – the main referral hospital in Kampala – are in quarantine after “at least one or two cases” were taken there.

Health officials told reporters in Kampala that the 14 dead were among 20 reported with the disease. Two of the infected have been isolated for examination by researchers and health officials. A clinical officer and, days later, her four-month-old baby died from the disease caused by the Ebola virus, officials said.

Uganda has seen three major outbreaks over the past 12 years. The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.

What Causes Ebola?

An infection with the Ebola virus is what causes Ebola. Three of the four identified sub-types of the Ebola virus have caused Ebola in humans: Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, and Ebola-Ivory Coast. The exact origin, locations, and natural habitat of the Ebola virus remain unknown; however, researchers believe that the virus lives in an animal host in Africa.

It is not known exactly how an outbreak of Ebola virus occurs. Researchers theorize that the first person to develop Ebola in an outbreak becomes infected with the virus through contact with an infected animal. Transmission of Ebola among humans occurs through direct contact with people who have Ebola or their blood (or other body fluids).

Signs and symptoms of Ebola

When a person becomes infected with Ebola Virus, the virus begins to multiply within the body. After four to six days on average, signs and symptoms of Ebola begin to develop. The period between infection with the Ebola virus and the start of symptoms is called the Ebola incubation period. The incubation period for Ebola can be as short as 2 days or as long as 21 days.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola symptoms usually appear abruptly. Common signs and symptoms of Ebola can include: Weakness, fever, sore throat, dehydration, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, dry, hacking cough.

A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients. When the rash develops on dark skin, it is often not recognized until the rash begins to peel.

In pregnant women, abortion (miscarriage) and heavy vaginal bleeding are common Ebola symptoms.

Death usually occurs during the second week of Ebola symptoms. Death in Ebola victims is usually due to massive blood loss.

Ebola Prevention

Ebola prevention involves avoiding direct contact with the body fluids of infected people. Also, it is important to avoid direct contact with the body of an Ebola victim who has died.

For healthcare workers in Africa, who are most likely to encounter cases of Ebola, prevention focuses on being able to recognize cases of the disease when they appear, as well as using barrier isolation techniques to avoid direct contact with infected people.

Once an Ebola outbreak begins, the effects of the virus can be devastating. There is no Ebola cure, and once a person develops an Ebola virus infection, the chance of death can be as high as 90 percent.

Because there is no Ebola vaccine that is currently licensed, Ebola prevention focuses on preventing direct contact with body fluid of those infected with the virus. Another aspect of Ebola prevention involves avoiding direct contact with the body of an Ebola victim who has died as a result of the virus.

Spread of Ebola

The spread of Ebola virus occurs when uninfected people come into direct contact with an infected person or his or her secretions or blood. This is very common in hospitals during outbreaks of the virus. In a primate research facility in Virginia, the spread of a subtype of the Ebola virus from monkey to monkey appeared to have occurred through the air.

The spread of Ebola occurs through direct contact with an infected person or his or her body fluids (such as blood or secretions). The late stage of an Ebola infection is when the spread of Ebola most often occurs.

The spread of Ebola can also occur through direct contact with the body of an Ebola victim, which most often occurs at a burial ceremony where mourners touch recently deceased Ebola victims.

A patient’s family and friends are at increased risk for exposure this way, because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for the infected person. People can also be exposed to Ebola virus through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

The spread of Ebola is very common in hospitals during outbreaks. Proper protection, such as a mask, gown, or gloves, is rarely used in African healthcare facilities. Exposure to the virus has occurred when healthcare workers treated individuals with Ebola hemorrhagic fever without wearing these types of protective clothing.

In addition, when needles or syringes are used, they may not be of the disposable type, or may not have been sterilized, but are only rinsed before reinsertion into multiuse vials of medicine. If needles or syringes become contaminated with virus and are then reused, numerous people can become infected.

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100 responses to “What you need to know about Ebola

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