Ebola continues to spread through West Africa, claiming more than 3,300 lives and leaving over 3,900 infected. The virus has been relatively contained in the region but now Ebola has officially landed in the United States with the confirmation of one case in Texas.
There is certain comfort in knowing that the virus hasn't appeared in the country but having a confirmed case shouldn't be a cause for panic either. Texas health officials are already rounding up all the people believed to have had contact with the man since he arrived in the country. At the moment, he is confined in an isolation ward in Dallas still battling the virus.
The level of health care in the U.S. is dramatically different from what West Africa has so there's very little chance that Ebola will spread in the country. Even if someone does get infected, supportive care can be swiftly provided, alleviating symptoms until the body fights off the virus completely. In Africa, some facilities are so over-run that they have to turn away patients.
Still, it doesn't hurt to take measures to be safe, starting with knowing the symptoms of Ebola.
Typical Ebola symptoms include fever, nausea, aches and pains, diarrhea, and vomiting. These are usually present themselves during the incubation period which is normally eight to 10 days after infection. In a small percentage of cases, bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth, and anus, as well as seizures and loss of consciousness have been reported when the infection is not addressed. Without proper care, death is possible on the 12th day of infection.
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact, meaning an individual will have to be splashed or sprayed with bodily fluids on their eyes, nose, or mouth from an infected person to contract the virus. Breaks or cuts in the skin are also openings that bodily fluids can seep into and infect someone.
Practicing proper hygiene is also important. The Ebola virus can survive on dry surfaces for a few hours and last up to several days in bodily fluids or in puddles at room temperature. Bleach solutions can kill the virus so a regular wipe-down will help towards curbing Ebola from taking hold.
Clinical trials are underway but no vaccines have been developed to combat Ebola. This is why prevention is still the best line of defense Americans have against the virus. At the slightest suspicion of an infection, most especially when you're sure that you've come into contact with someone who just came from Africa, don't hesitate to get yourself checked out at the hospital. It's always better safe than sorry.