You can hardly listen to the radio, go online, or turn on the television without being bombarded with news and mounting statistics regarding the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) has killed at least 5,700 people, though the actual number of fatalities may be much higher.
Recently, reports circulated about two infected American aid workers who were evacuated from Liberia in a medical charter insulation pod for transport back to the U.S., where they were to receive treatment. Health officials are hopeful that the epidemic will not reach the North American mainland.
This is what you need to know about the Ebola outbreak…
1. Identifying Ebola
Ebola is a fatal virus that spreads through direct contact with an infected person—typically via blood, bodily fluids, or tissue transmission (i.e., shared needles or infected bodily secretions). While the virus that causes the Ebola disease, exists in animals, new research suggests that the virus is difficult or impossible for an animal to transmit directly to a human being. In addition to blood, human bodily fluids that contain the Ebola virus include breast milk, saliva, semen, urine, sweat, tears, feces and vomit.
The virus is usually transmitted to a person through their eyes, nose, or mouth, or through open cuts or wounds. Generally speaking, the sicker a person is, the more contagious they are. It is also important to remember that survivors can still transmit the virus to others even after they have recovered; for example, the virus has been clinically proven to survive for up to 7 weeks in the semen of a male who was formerly infected.