Ebola has spread like wildfire in West Africa, Sierra Leone and Guinea, causing a world-wide panic. As of right now, there is no cure for the deadly disease, which takes the lives of 90 percent of those it affects. Even worse, the disease can be contracted even after the infected person has died. Liberia has closed its borders in an attempt to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading into their country. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 is rapidly becoming the deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.
Two Americans contracted the disease while serving in Liberia. Kent Brantly, a devoted missionary to Africa and father of two, is in grave condition in Liberia. He is in isolated quarantine.
The first outbreak of Ebola occurred in Sudan in 1976, where it infected over 284 people and killed 53 percent of its victims. A second outbreak erupted a few months later and infected over 318 people, exponentially increasing the number of deaths to 88 percent. Despite the enormous and dedicated efforts of experienced officials to discover the origin of the disease, no solid evidence could be found.
It was not
until 1989, and the third outbreak of Ebola, that experienced researches identified strains of the virus in infected monkeys imported from the Philippines. In 1994, a female ethologist performed a necropsy on a dead chimpanzee and accidentally infected herself.
Today, this deadly disease, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, has a killing rate of 90 percent, making the current outbreak the deadliest in history. Already, it has killed over 660 people, and infected another 1,100. The CDC, to reassure public concern and harness any forming threat of chaos, has stated there is “no significant risk” that the virus will reach
the United States.
As far as is known at present, Ebola has the highest potential of breaking out in remote villages in Central and West Africa. The virus can be transferred from people and wild animals, but when people get the disease they tend not to travel far, due to the debilitating symptoms and swift onset of the disease. Along those same lines, people refraining from traveling to infected areas can also prevent a wider spread of the virus. Regarding non-human carriers, fruit bats and monkeys are now considered the natural hosts of the virus.
One thing that makes it hard to actually diagnose Ebola are its non-specific symptoms. Early symptoms have been reported as weakness, fever, aches, stomach pain, sore throat and headache, which can be mistaken for a long list of other illnesses. In later stages, the virus can progress to chest pain, rash, red eyes, difficulty breathing and swallowing, a high fever and both internal and external bleeding. Like other illnesses, symptoms can develop eight to ten days after being exposed to the virus, but the current incubation period is anywhere from two to twenty-one days.
Due to the severity of this particular outbreak, it has become known as the deadliest outbreak of the virus in history. When treating infected patients, it is imperative that health officials wear the appropriate gear: gloves, goggles, full-body hazmat suits and face masks. Caught early enough, the illness can be circumvented. However, once past a certain point, the disease spreads quickly through the body and overtakes its victim.
By Rachel Roddy