What do you need to know about Ebola?
Fear over Ebola and potential for spread to North America is growing. This is the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa and involves the most deadly strain of the Ebola virus to date.
Here is what you need to know about the Ebola outbreak as it stands now:
Where are the cases of Ebola?
Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone
How many people have been infected?
The World Health Organization has confirmed upwards of 500 deaths and 1000 cases, though there are likely many more unaccounted for. It is the largest outbreak of the disease in terms of cases, deaths and geographical reach. Over 60 aid workers have died in Africa to date after contracting Ebola from infected patients.
There is no vaccine for Ebola, and the only way to prevent its spread is by isolating infected individuals.
Why are so many people affected?
There is no vaccine for Ebola, and the only way to prevent its spread is by isolating infected individuals. With ever increasing travel within Africa and internationally, outbreaks can be more widespread.
Could Ebola come to Canada or the United States
Dr Kent Brantly was infected with Ebola while working for an aid group in Liberia. He was brought to the US last week for care, and a colleague Nancy Writebol will be brought to the US soon as well. All precautions are being made to prevent its spread from these individuals. There are no other cases of Ebola in North America at this time.
What are Ebola virus symptoms?
- Nausea, vomiting and diarhea (may be bloody)
- Rash and bleeding
- Chest pain and cough
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Red eyes
How long does it last?
Two to three weeks. When resolved and no longer contagious, blood tests come back negative for the virus.
There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Treatment involves ‘supportive care’
What is the treatment?
There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Treatment involves ‘supportive care’ – providing intravenous fluids, blood products and oxygen as needed, preventing dehydration and shock.
Ebola is very infectious, meaning those infected are very likely to get sick. However, it is not very contagious, and doesn’t spread easily.
Should we be scared?
Ebola is very infectious, meaning those infecteded are very likely to get sick. However, it is not very contagious, and doesn’t spread easily. To become infected, an individual has to be expose to the bodily fluids of a patient who has symptoms of Ebola. If we are able to prevent the entry of infected patients into Canada and the US (unless brought by medical professionals with the highest control of bodily fluids), the public is not at risk.
Please check back for updates on the Ebola virus as the story unfolds, and hopefully becomes under control.
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.