Latest study that was led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Imperial College London reveals that Ebola is deadlier for children aged 16 years or less.
The Ebola endemic in western Africa has affected thousands of people, and researchers suggest that the disease is severe in children. The rate of Ebola infection is low in children in comparison to adults. However, the disease is deadlier and chances of survival are low when children get infected.
The Ebola mortality rate is 90 percent in children under one year, 80 percent in children between 1 and 4 years and 52 percent in children between 10 and 15 years. Adults between 16 and 44 years have a fatality rate of 65 percent.
The time from being infected with Ebola and showing the symptoms, or incubation period, also varies in different age groups. The research found that in infants less than one year, the incubation period was 6.9 days when compared to 9.8 days in children between 10 and 15 years.
There are quite a few symptoms of Ebola; however, infected children usually have fever in the early stages. Children are unlikely to get other symptoms such as abdomen pain, chest pain, muscle or joint pain and more.
"The findings of this study emphasize that children suffering from Ebola need the highest quality medical care, but they leave open the question of why older children, aged 10-15 years, appear to be less vulnerable to Ebola than either infants or adults. This is a topic for future research," says Dr. Chris Dye, the head of WHO's Ebola epidemiology team in Geneva, who is also the co-author of the study.
Medical experts suggest that one of the reasons that Ebola mortality rate is higher in young children is that they are mainly dependent upon caregivers to get medical attention. The latest research calls for specialized and dedicated care system for children infected with Ebola. Doctors and nurses who have expertise in pediatric care can help when treating young children.
The latest Ebola outbreak started in early 2014. The disease has affected thousands of people and killed more than 10,300 people in West Africa. Around 4,000 children have been affected in the latest Ebola outbreak. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remain the hardest hit Ebola regions in Western Africa.
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