Ebola Virus Patient in Liberia Dies


Ebola virus patient, Ruth Tugbah, who had been the sole remaining person in Liberia to carry the deadly virus, died in Monrovia, the capital, at a treatment center. Her case was the first to be reported to Liberia in weeks, and as a result, has hindered efforts to halt the ebola virus. The virus has also spread in other countries, such as Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Francis Katteh, who is the acting head of the response team, stated that since the patient may have contracted the virus through sex, the team has been able to trace all those with whom Tugbah has come into contact.

Ebola is a deadly virus, which is usually transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood and semen. Other possible ways it is spread is through sweat, saliva, vomit, breast milk, feces, and urine. This can happen through direct contact with humans or infected animal species, through broken skin and orifices, as well as through objects, like used needles and syringes. One of its main avenues of transmissions is through intercourse, which is believed be the manner in which Ebola virus patient, Tugbah had contracted the disease before she died in her country of Liberia.

First discovered in 1976 in what is currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was named after the river, where the first case was found. Slowly, it found its way through other victims across the African continent. Though its natural origin is unknown, researchers believe that it is mainly carried by mammals indigenous to the region, most notably the fruit bat. Symptoms of the disease can appear within the first three weeks of contracting, though the normal range is between eight to ten days. These may include headaches and high fever, weakness, fatigue, muscle and abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and bodily hemorrhaging. Because of its ease of spreading through human contact, medical specialists who care for Ebola patients, as well as family and friends of both the patient and specialist, are the most at risk of contracting the virus and must come under immediate care, be quarantined, or barred from traveling to populous countries where the virus could become more rampant. When caring for patients carrying the Ebola virus, healthcare specialists must exercise responsiveness, and take extra care in properly sanitizing or disposing equipment in order to prevent further spreading.

Prior to Ruth Tugbah’s illness and death, making her the sole remaining Ebola virus patient to die, Liberian officials had hoped that by April, they could declare their country Ebola free, six weeks after the most recent patient tested negative for a second time. Agencies involved are now reviewing the case and setting new guidelines to prevent further spread and possible deaths. On Saturday, the Liberian government recommended that any survivors of the virus must take precautions while engaging in intercourse, including using a condom, or abstaining altogether from sex, until they receive more information on the virus’ behavior, including the amount of time it could remain in bodily fluids. While in the past, males survivors were instructed to abstain or practice safe-sex for 82 days, they are now being asked to do so indefinitely.

by Bill Ades

The New York Times
Photo by NIAID – Flickr License

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