As a doctor, I’ve been observing with trepidation the relatively rapid geographical progression of the outbreak of the Ebola virus that was reported in Guinea early in February this year. The infection has also been reported at this time to have spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali, with an Ebola scare occurring most recently in Ghana. In view of this, knowledge is of the essence and we should equip ourselves with necessary information about the infection and its spread — when you know better, you do better.
What Is Ebola?
The Ebola virus is one of at least 30 known viruses capable of causing viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome, which is a very severe illness accompanied by bleeding. Usually up to 90 percent of infected people die as there’s no vaccine or treatment available.
How Does It Spread?
Ebola is transmissible from person to person via direct contact with an infected patient’s blood or other body fluids. People in direct contact with sick people and even dead bodies are at most risk, e.g family members and health workers.
What Are Ebola’s Symptoms?
Symptoms usually start within two days of contact with an infected person or body and is classified as early and late symptoms.
Early symptoms are usually non-specific and can confuse medical personnel and even the infected person. They include:
- general body and joint pains
- sore throat
Other symptoms that often occur later include:
- vomiting (containing blood)
- diarrhea (containing blood as well)
- cough (also containing blood)
- bleeding (mostly from the mouth and nose)
- and even death from other complications.
Here are a few guidelines on how NOT to get Ebola:
- Don’t touch an infected person or their body fluids, e.g blood, vomit, feces, urine, and genital fluids.
- Avoid bodies of people who have been suspected to die from the infection.
- Wash your hands often, using soap.
- Ebola is in animals and bats too, so don’t touch or eat “bush meat” and bats, especially when there’s an outbreak of the infection.
- Infection control inside and outside of medical facilities should be optimal. This is achieved by using barrier protection methods, such as using double gloves, fluid-impermeable gowns, face shields with eye protection, and coverings for legs and shoes.
What To Do If You Get Ebola
1. Keep away from others so you don’t infect them.
2. Be very careful with your body fluids.
3. Call your hospital, and go see your doctor immediately!
Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to your health and life, don’t get caught unaware in the outbreak.