By Caroline Bennett
During the past couple of months, the Ebola virus has been spreading like wildfire throughout the hinterland regions of West Africa. The first outbreak occurred in Guinea back in December of 2013, and now Ebola has spiraled out of control, and researchers say we better get this virus before it’s too late.
Ebola is spread through wild animals, human to human transmission, contact with blood, infection from direct contact, blood secretions, or handling of infected animals (commonly chimps, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope, and porcupines.) Animals like these are commonly found in Africa, which is why the virus is
A burial team from the Liberian Ministry of Health loads the bodies of Ebola victims into a truck on Thursday, September 4, in Banjol, Liberia
“All the sequences are very similar, suggesting it came from a common source,” a senior associate member at the Broad Institute and associate professor at Harvard, Pardis Sabeti says.
Ebola symptoms are common to flu symptoms at first, but they progressively get worse. Symptoms include sudden or onset fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, rash, impaired kidney or liver function, internal and/or external bleeding, low white blood cell count, and external liver enzymes.
Before a patient is diagnosed with Ebola, other diseases have to be ruled out first—malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis, and haemorrhagic fevers.
Researchers all over the world are very nervous about this outbreak because it has a 90% fatality rate. They have tried sending in protected health care to the people, but those sent into the villages are contracting the disease and dying at alarming rates.
Researchers gathered that this outbreak has caused 2,400 deaths out of 5,000 cases, but there are thousands of cases that remain unknown. Researchers also believe that before it is stopped, Ebola will reach as many as 20,000 people.
“This is a frightening situation, and we need to work together” Sabeti says.
So how much of a threat to the US is Ebola? Unfortunately, it’s a big one, researchers are saying.
“Men, women, and children are just sitting waiting to die right now,” says President Obama. “We know the science. We know how to prevent it from spreading. We know how to care for those who contract it. We know that if we take the proper steps, we can save lives. But we have to act fast.”