The deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) continues to rear its ugly head in West Africa with several cases of the disease killing hundreds of people being reported in Mali, Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone.
For the uninitiated, Ebola cause organ failure and internal bleeding in those affected and dependent on the strain, it can be fatal in 30 percent to 90 percent of the cases. The disease spreads when an individual comes into direct contact with an infected person.
While the origin of the virus remains unknown at this juncture, it is believed that the virus was not imported from neighboring or other countries.
The virus is said to be a member of the Zaire species, known to have the highest case-fatality rate. Previously, strains of the virus have been responsible for outbreaks in Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the current virus is said to be a new strain in the Zaire family after new research analyzed samples of blood from 20 patients.
So what are some early symptoms of the illness?
- Sore throat
- Joint pains
The late symptoms of the disease are as follows:
- Bleeding eyes
- Bleeding nose
- Bleeding ears
- Bleeding from the mouth and rectum
- Swelling of eyes
- Swelling of genitals
- Rashes on the body
Unfortunately, these symptoms bear some semblance to several other ailments as well, but if neglected could lead to coma and death. Ebola virus has been deemed far more deadly than any other viral hemorrhagic fever as it results in more deaths.
To protect oneself from contracting the virus here are some precautionary steps one can take:
- Avoid direct contact with "body secretions" e.g. vomit of those infected.
- Avoid uncooked bush meat as the Ebola virus is rampant in wild animals like pigs, monkeys, bats, forest antelope, gorillas etc.
- Avoid contact with those suffering from Ebola and decontaminate their personal objects.
- Maintain high hygiene standards (both personal and environmental). Wash hands with soap and water.
- Wear protective masks around those suffering from EVD.
Presently, no vaccine or a specific cure for EVD does not exist and, therefore, only supportive care is provided to those suffering.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says there won't be relief from EVD anytime soon as the Ebola virus is expected to continue to wreak havoc for a few more months in West Africa.