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A Practical Guide to Ebola Virus Disease – What is Ebola?

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A Practical Guide to Ebola Virus Disease – What is Ebola?

17-Nov-2014
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What is Ebola?

With all the recent coverage of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, it’s difficult not to get at least a little worried about the Ebola Virus. This article aims to inform you about the Ebola Virus and the preventative and cleaning precautions that can be taken.

The first thing to know is that the Ebola virus has been around in humans for nearly 40 years. It is first known to have been passed onto humans in 1976 and there have been minor outbreaks over the years since. 2014’s outbreak is certainly the most widespread, with over 13,000 reported cases worldwide and a 70% mortality rate, but the ebola virus is not airbourne and appears to only spread through physical contact with contaminated bodily fluids.

It is currently thought that most outbreaks are caused by the Virus living in fruit bats or monkeys and contact with one of these infected animals, through a bite or contact with bodily secretions/organs, transfers the virus to humans.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)

How is Ebola transferred?

Thankfully Ebola is not transmitted by air, water or cooked food. If this was the case then the disease would be significantly more prevalent. However, consumption of milk, raw meat or raw organs of an infected animal is a method of contraction. As a result of this, ensure that ALL meat is well cooked to dissolve any transmission risk.

Once the Virus has contaminated a human, it can be transferred to other people through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person (either alive or dead). The second method of transmission is being exposed to infected clothing, needles, bandages etc. Careful and thorough cleaning, using the appropriate personal protective equipment, as well as careful disposal can help to prevent further contamination.

When is Ebola contagious?

On average, each person who contracts Ebola is infecting a further two healthy people. This statistic is not as high as you may think considering someone with Mumps will on average infect 10 people and Measles around 18. In general, a person can only be contagious if they are physically showing symptoms of Ebola. However, there are still occasional exceptions.

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