The news finally confirmed that the disease has finally made an entry into Nigeria. Many people have started panicking and to help with some clarifications, www.gidinews.com presents you with five questions and answers on the deadly virus.
WHERE WAS EBOLA FIRST DISCOVERED?
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
HOW IS EBOLA CONTACTED?
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF EBOLA?
The initial symptoms are usually high fever, headache, muscle aches, stomach pain, and diarrhea. There may also be sore throat, hiccups, and red and itchy eyes. The symptoms that tend to follow include vomiting and rash and bleeding problems with bloody nose (epistaxis), spitting up blood from the lungs (hemoptysis) and vomiting it up from the stomach (hematemesis), and bloody eyes (conjunctival hemorrhages). Then finally come chest pain, shock, and death.
HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
The prevention of the spread of Ebola fever involves practical viral hemorrhagic fever isolation precautions, or barrier nursing techniques. These techniques include the wearing of protective clothing, such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles; the use of infection-control measures, including complete equipment sterilization; and the isolation of Ebola fever patients from contact with unprotected persons.
The aim of all of these techniques is to avoid any person’s contact with the blood or secretions of any patient. If a patient with Ebola fever dies, it is equally important that direct contact with the body of the deceased patient be prevented.
The incubation period –the period between contact with the virus and the appearance of symptoms — ranges from 2 to 21 days.
IS THERE ANY CURE YET?
There is no known treatment for Ebola in humans. Doctors can offer supportive therapy, such as hydration, oxygen and treatment of complicating infections, but mortality rates are still very high. Because the natural reservoir and origin of transmission remains unknown, there are no established methods of primary prevention. Instead, prevention efforts focus on outbreak control in healthcare settings.
There have been 28 documented outbreaks, with 2,288 human cases and 1,331 deaths. The most recent Ebola outbreak, according to the CDC, was a single case in Luwero district, Uganda in May 2011.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.
No specific treatment is available. New drug therapies are being evaluated.