Ebola was first discovered in 1972 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease was named after the Ebola river, which is located near one of the villages first afflicted.
Five distinct species of the virus have been discovered.The current outbreak taking place in West African countries; Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is associated with the Zaire strain which has shown to be one of the deadliest yet.
Ebola HF is caused by a severe, often fatal, strain of hemorrhagic fever which develops with 2 to 21 days after exposure. The symptoms of Ebola are fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite.
Some patients may experience a rash, internal and external bleeding, red eyes, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing and breathing.
Diagnosing Ebola in a person who has been infected for only a few days is difficult because earyl symptoms like red eyes and skin rash are nonspecific to the Ebola virus infection and are seen often in patients with more commonly occurring diseases.
There have been an increasing number of cases worldwide accounting for approximately 4,000 known cases. Upward of 90 percent of those cases have resulted in death.
The first known case in the United States was a Texas man name Thomas Eric Duncan who contracted the disease after traveling to Liberia and helping a neighbor go to the hospital.
Duncan has since died of the fatal disease leaving some to wonder if his case was handled properly. Since the Duncan case two other people have contracted the Ebola virus while caring for Duncan.
A 26 year old nurse name Nina Pham was the second known case of Ebola in the U.S. and the first to get it from Duncan.The Center for Disease Control (CDC) who monitors infectious threats and diseases claim that proper care protocol was not followed in the Pham case as the reason for her contracting the virus.
The second employee at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Amber Vinson age 29 was also on the teamed that cared for Duncan flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.
The CDC is asking anyone who flew on this plane to make contact because of the timing of the flight and the woman reporting her illness to the hospital.
The CDC noted that this health care worker did not exhibit any symptoms while on the flight. Outbreaks of EVD infections are severe but short in duration.As many as 90 percent of those infected with EVD will die from the virus. The Ebola outbreak typically occur in rainforests of central Africa.
The first cases of Ebola may have come from those who handled or slaughtered primates such as monkeys and fruit bats.consuming the raw or undercooked meat from these animals may have also been a factor.
Once an outbreak takes place in humans the virus can be transmitted within a community, and to health care workers, through direct contact and bodily fluids like blood, sweat, saliva, other bodily fluids, or organs of infected victims.
The virus can be detected in blood of recovering victims up to 61 days. Currently there is no known vaccines for EVD but there is an experimental drug that is being tested.
The best preventative practices are to avoid contact with infected humans and also avoid contact or consumption of animals that are likely infected with the Ebola virus.
Take precautionary measures if individuals are encountered who have traveled to affected areas such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
If you think someone you know or encounter on a regular basis may be infected, avoid direct contact with bodily fluids and use protective gear such as face masks, gloves, gowns, etc.
Isolate the individual and contact the Center for Disease Control and prevention immediately. Recommended Precautions It is important to adhere to proper hygiene such as hand washing, when dealing with ill appearing people.
Adhere to good hand washing protocols prior to eating or handling food, after using the restroom, or after caring for someone that may have been ill from diarrhea. Ensure food is cooked well and peel fruits and vegetables in areas of concern.