Ebola – The Facts

Published: 9th October, 2014 in: Health Advice News Pulse

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus that has already killed thousands of people during its latest outbreak, its low survival rates is a worry to people all over the world.
Ebola has two stages, the virus and the disease. Sufferers of the full-blown disease unfortunately have a very low survival rate as it can lead to massive internal (and external) bleeding. This is due to the disease destroying living tissue cells.

Where did it come from?

It’s thought that Ebola lived harmlessly amongst fruit bats for many years, and eventually spread into chimpanzees and gorillas. It’s likely that it was passed to humans by the handling of dead, infected animals.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

To start with:

  • Rapidly developing fever
  • Intense weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat

Followed by:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rash
  • Kidney/liver problems
  • Bleeding

The time scale between getting the infection and showing symptoms can take between 2 and 21 days.

What are the chances of survival?

During this outbreak, the fatality rate is around 70%, but this can range between 25% and 90% who have the full-blown disease.

How might I catch Ebola?

Ebola is transferred from person to person through contact with bodily fluids of people with the infection. It has been known for Ebola to be passed on through sexual intercourse, infected animals, or even dead victims.

Can Ebola be treated?

There is no vaccine for Ebola, only trying to replace lost fluids (oral solutions). There is an experimental drug (ZMapp) which has been credited with saving lives since being tested on sufferers this year. It has not yet been subject to randomised clinical trials to establish its safety and whether it works.

What should I do if I’m travelling to an at-risk area?

  • Don’t handle dead animals
  • Don’t eat bushmeat
  • Avoid contact with patients with symptoms
  • Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse in the at-risk areas
  • Make sure fruit and veg is washed and peeled
  • Wash hands frequently using soap and water (alcohol hand rubs are appropriate if soap and water is not available)
  • What should I do if I think I or someone I know has Ebola? - Visit a healthcare provider immediately
  • Limit contact with others
  • Avoid all other travel

If you have recently come back from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and are showing signs of Ebola, stay at home and call 111 or 999. You should explain you have just come back from West Africa and you will be advised on what to do.

Positive information
You cannot catch Ebola through social contact or by being near to an infected person.

Information taken from Sky News and NHS Choices