It’s the largest Ebola outbreak ever, and groups like the World Health Organization are calling for immediate action before it becomes a bigger, even more international problem. And they’re right—cases of travelers bringing Ebola to new countries are starting to pop up.
If you’ve been skimming the news because you don’t live somewhere Ebola’s an issue, we’re here to catch you up:
-Ebola is a virus—outbreaks start in animals, usually fruit bats (but pigs too) then spread to humans. Between humans, Ebola is spread by bodily fluids: blood, sweat, etc.
-Symptoms can take week to manifest, and then they move very quickly. Symptoms begin as flu like: weakness, fever, sore throat, headache, joint & muscle pain. Then they progress quickly, from the inside out: coughing, confusion, seizures, coma, as well as blood rashes and bleeding.
-We don’t really have a special treatment for Ebola (or prevention, like a vaccine). Doctors take two steps: 1) Quarantine, to prevent further spread, and 2) standard viral care: rest, fluids, and symptom management.
-Because it’s fast acting and there’s no specific cure, most people die from Ebola—usually 90%. However, with heavy aid coming in, one estimate says that in the current outbreak we may have those numbers down to just 60% dieing.
-BUT, survivors are very contagious for at least a couple of months afterward. High mortality is actually one of the things that has traditionally contained Ebola outbreaks (although even in death, special care has to be take for the corpse, so it’s not easy either way).
What should you do? Be careful when travelling internationally. Wash hands frequently when preparing meals, before eating, and especially if you come into contact with others.
Travelling or not, be extra careful if you get sick. See a doctor if symptoms are worse or progress more quickly than your previous experiences.
And don’t forget to support your immune system (especially while travelling, which can depress your immune system from stress and lack of sleep).
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