The outbreak of the disease began in March with a few identified cases in Guinea. Since then, the number has risen to 909 confirmed cases and 414 probable and additional suspected cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
Current efforts are to limit the virus within the distressed areas and to find a way for an early identification.
The problem is that the infected people need between two and 21 days to show the first symptoms of Ebola. Because of this, authorities can’t prevent infected people from leaving the country.
Western countries fear that the disease can be spread by a single person during a flight from the infected countries. This is the reason why two Nigerian airlines canceled all flights from Monrovia and Freetown (the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone).
A relieving circumstance is that, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, the virus can be spread (on an airplane), only if a person comes in contact with body fluids of an infected person.
Why such a large fear of Ebola?
- According to Doctors without Borders, this is “one of the deadliest diseases in the world.” The mortality rate is about 90% (it has since decreased to 55% thanks to timely detection).
- There are five types of Ebola. The one in DR Congo is the deadliest.
- The current outbreak is of this kind.
What is Ebola, what are the symptoms?
- The Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever, which according to the CDC, comprises of a group of viruses that attack multiple organs and systems in the body and is often accompanied by bleeding.
- Named after the Ebola River in the DR Congo (former Zaire), where the disease was first documented in 1976.
- The first symptoms are fever, feeling of weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These symptoms may occur between two to 21 days after infection.
- According to WHO, these same symptoms can be misinterpreted as symptoms of malaria, meningitis or fever.
- Infected people get reddened skin and eyes, chest pain, trouble breathing and swallowing, hiccups.
- Then these symptoms evolve into vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and liver problems, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
- The disease can only be confirmed after five laboratory tests.