Uh-Oh…Ebola?

by Brandon Musick

The recent outbreak of the Ebola disease has the world in a frenzy. Although treatable, it presents a major problem for many African nations. The disease has proven difficult to manage, and some nations have allowed Ebola patients access to their more advanced medical technology. But most people know very little about the virus. So what is Ebola? According to Mayo Clinic, the Ebola virus is similar to the Marburg virus. Both cause hemorrhagic fevers, and are “illnesses marked by severe bleeding (hemorrhage), organ failure and, in many cases, death.” Symptoms include fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, chills, and weakness. However, over time, symptoms worsen and lead to nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, raised rash, chest pain and cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, bleeding and bruising, and internal bleeding. There is no known medication proven to effectively treat the virus. However, effective hospital care includes “providing fluids, maintain blood pressure, providing oxygen as needed, replacing lost blood, and treating other infections as they develop.”

Sounds pretty serious, and it is. However, here in the United States, we are relatively protected from an outbreak. There have only been two reported cases of the disease in the US, and both patients are medical providers, and were exposed to the disease while treating infected citizens in Liberia. And don’t worry about it traveling to the US anytime soon. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that “the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low…Ebola is not spread by breathing air from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals.”

Well that’s a relief. Unless I eat infected monkey liver, it looks like I’m pretty safe. But this has become a major issue in West Africa and for thousands of people. The WHO has declared this epidemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Many people are looking toward the nation of Uganda for answers. Uganda has reported small outbreaks of the disease since 1995, and may hold the answer for treating the deadly disease.

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