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On April 2 the Ministry of Health in Guinea reported 83 deaths from 127 probable cases of Ebola.  Liberia and Sierra Leone are also reporting cases of this horrific disease.  People in these countries need support in their fight against this tragedy.  Further spread of this viral infection also needs to be prevented.
WHO does not currently recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone based on the current information available for this event.

If I were planning a casual trip to one of these countries my personal choice would be to wait until this epidemic was under control.  Precautions for travelers can be found at the CDC website:

The Ebola virus is probably carried by African fruit bats, but other animals can be infected by the disease.  People have gotten Ebola from infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, fruit bats, and porcupines.  It can be spread between humans by contact with body fluids the same way HIV is spread, but Ebola is much more contagious than HIV.  Tears, saliva, excrement and other body fluids from a person infected with Ebola are all dangerous.   Men who recover from Ebola may have active virus in their semen for up to 7 weeks after they recover.  

This disease would not spread as fast if every person was given the good medical care they deserve.  Medical care needs to be properly funded everywhere.  Infected needles and inadequately sterilized medical equipment spread the infection.    Symptoms of Ebola appear 2 to 21 days after exposure but usually the victims become ill 8-10 days after they catch the virus. The first signs of the illness are usually headache, muscle aches and fever, so at first it is difficult to tell that the victim has Ebola.  Other people can get the infection from the patient before anyone realizes the danger.

There is no cure for Ebola.  In the past 25% to 90% of the people who got ill from the Ebola virus did not survive.  Some strains of Ebola are more likely to be fatal than other strains. People in poor health and people who are infected with HIV are in greater danger.  Pregnant women are likely to miscarry their baby even if they survive themselves. There is no medicine available to treat Ebola infections.   Medical workers or family members need to make sure the patients drink plenty of fluids.  IV fluids could help where equipment is available.  There is not much else anyone can do to help the victims.

Bleach solutions can be used to kill the virus.  Careful use of bleach water to wash bedding, clothing, floors, walls and anything that has come in contact with Ebola patients has given some protection to caregivers in past outbreaks.  Daily burning of contaminated trash also helped. Medical staff and family members who care for the patients are heroes; gloves, clean gowns and careful cleaning with soap and bleach solutions can greatly decrease their risks.

The tragedy of Ebola continues if the patient does not survive.  Traditional preparation of the body for the funeral can infect family members because body fluids are infectious for several days or weeks.  In previous epidemics female family members were infected when they bathed and dressed their lost relative before the funeral.  Now people are supposed to quickly bury their dead relatives in a bleach soaked bag.  The back of the pickup used to transport the corpse needs to be washed down with bleach to prevent spread of the infection.  Only the closest relatives should be allowed to attend the funeral, even though this increases the fear and feelings of loss in the community.  

There is research on possible vaccines for Ebola, but nothing is available yet.  The Reston virus is related to Ebola but it infects monkeys or pigs in the Phillipines and China.  Reston virus has not caused serious illness in humans.  Studies of the Reston could help find a way to prevent outbreaks of Ebola in Africa.  New epidemics of Ebola are not a problem in the United States since we do not have populations of African fruit bats flying around.  We should fight Ebola over there so we will never have to fight it over here.  

Most of this information is from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).  I checked a couple of articles on PubMed as well.  Here are several starting links to further information:

Originally posted to allie4fairness on Fri Apr 04, 2014 at 08:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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