Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

What You Need To Know About The Ebola Virus

by Caitlin Obara

The Ebola virus has been around for a long time. For years, little was heard about it. Now it has hit the headlines in a major way. In some parts of the world, the Ebola virus is spreading rapidly, and even those far from the affected countries are beginning to become fearful. There are even reports of it hitting the United States from missionaries who were traveling abroad. What is the Ebola virus, and what does the recent outbreak mean to you?

What is the Ebola virus?

The Ebola virus causes the Ebola hemorrhagic fever (also known as just Ebola). It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person. This disease causes sudden flu like symptoms to begin with. Fever, muscle aches, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common. Less common are sore throats, rashes, hiccuping, chest pain and shortness of breath. This stage is often short lived.

The next stage, which can vary in severity, is the hemorrhagic stage. Bleeding may be visible first from the mucous membranes, such as the gums, eyes, and genitalia. Vomiting blood, coughing up blood and bloody diarrhea is common. Lack of clotting from cuts and abrasions, coupled with body wide bruising are other symptoms. Multiple organ failure can happen next. This disease has a very high rate of morbidity.

How safe are you?

Presently, there has only been one reported case of Ebola in the United States, outside of doctors working in the outbreak area. This means you are currently under little threat of developing the disease. However, those who have traveled near or to an area affected recently should exercise some common sense caution. Your risk still remains low, but if you develop some symptoms soon after you return home, stay away from others and see a doctor.

Let the urgent care clinic or hospital know you've traveled to the Ebola affected area before going, so they can prepare adequately.

What are steps are being taken to control the current Ebola outbreak?

Unfortunately, the affected countries lack the infrastructure to adequately control on outbreak of this size. Luckily, many developed nations and organizations are working with the countries of outbreak to control the outbreak, treat those affected, and supply information about protection from the Ebola virus. It is a large outbreak, but many are working together to manage and keep it from spreading beyond its current borders. It is a greater risk to infants and seniors, so if you are working in home health care or with seniors, practice extra caution and keep an eye out for common symptoms.