The first outbreak of Ebola Fever occurred in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed in the same year by one in Sudan. Because the first outbreak occurred near the Ebola River in the DRC, the disease is named Ebola Fever and the agent which causes it Ebola Virus.
Since 1976, this appears to be the first time, the fatal form of the disease has broken out in West Africa. Because the human traffic in the sub-region is high, the disease can easily spread.
The disease is described as a haemorrhagic fever because occasionally, the fever is accompanied by external and internal bleeding.
The disease is now in Nigeria though being well contained by the appropriate authorities. Since there no cure, it is best for every one to know about it.
1. What Causes Ebola Fever?
Ebola fever is caused by Ebola virus; there are five types of this virus but only three are incriminated in infections in Africa. The other two are found in South East Asia—the Philippines.
2. How Does Ebola Fever Spread?
The disease affects animals and humans. It comes into the human population through contact with the blood, secretions, meat and other body fluids of infected animals. It can also happen when animals with the disease (dead or alive) are handled by human beings. These animals include chimpanzee, gorillas, monkeys, fruit bats and antelopes.
Once it enters the human population, it then spreads from person to person through direct or indirect contact with the blood, saliva, nasal discharge, tears, urine, sweat, semen and any other body fluids of the infected persons. Even poor handling of bodies of persons who died from the disease also help in the spread.
Health workers (doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists etc ) can contract the disease if special care is not taken during treatment of the infected person.
Infected persons can infect others up to two months after the onset of the disease.
3. When Do You Suspect You May Have Ebola Fever?
The symptoms of Ebola Fever include high fever, weakness, muscle pains, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes external and internal bleeding. Many diseases have similar symptoms.
If you or a relation of yours has high fever that persists, see a doctor for appropriate examination and diagnosis. Ebola fever can only be diagnosed by laboratory tests.
4. What Can Put You at Risk?
Three groups are particularly at risk:-health workers who can become infected while caring for infected persons.
The other group is made up of animal farm workers especially those working in pig farms; these farm workers could become infected through contact with fruit bats which are said to frequent pig farms..
Bush hunters who can come in contact with bush antelopes, gorillas and chimpanzees constitute the last group.
5. Possible Complications of Ebola Fever
25 to 90 percent of those infected die. Complications include severe dehydration, liver failure, kidney failure and anaemia (low blood level)
Ebola fever has no cure and no vaccine has been developed.
On individual basis, if you are a health worker, handle patients infected with Ebola virus with extreme precaution—use of gloves, boots, gowns, mask and goggles are essential. The body of the dead patient should be handled the same way.
Close contact with infected persons must be avoided. Bush meat must be thoroughly cooked before eating.
Contact with bush animals should be restricted especially without gloves.
If you are a farm worker, handle animals with gloves and appropriate protective clothing.
Finally, the best preventive measure is to be aware that fatal Ebola Fever is now in West Africa and to know how to avoid it.
PUBLISHED BY TRANSCON CONSULTING, A DIVISION OF TRANSCON HEALTHCARE LTD.