What Is Ebola Virus Disease?
Ebola Virus Disease, also known as EVD is a deadly illness caused by the Ebola Virus, a virus found in several African countries. The first case of EVD appeared 38 years ago, near the Ebola River in present day Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 2014 Ebola outbreak, which started in West Africa is the largest in history. Over 17,000 cases have been reported with over 6,000 deaths. Ebola Virus is believed to reside in animal hosts especially fruit bats.
How Is Ebola Virus Disease Transmitted?
The Ebola Virus primarily resides in animal hosts and is introduced into a human population when people come in close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines. The Ebola Virus is then transmitted to other humans by human-to-human transmission. This occurs when there is direct with (1) the bodily fluids (saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen) of infected people, and (2) with surfaces and materials contaminated with these infected body fluids (e.g. bedding, clothing, instruments.
Who Is At Risk of Contracting Ebola?
Without proper control measures, practically everyone is at risk of contracting Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). However, the following categories of people are at a higher risk:
Health-care workers come in close contact with infected patients can be infected if they do not practice strict infection control procedures.
Relatives and other caregivers who have had close contact with infected people are particularly at risk as they are likely to come in contact with the infected body fluids.
Sympathizers: in cultures where sympathizers have direct contact with dead bodies, there is a high risk of transmitting Ebola.
Is Ebola Virus Disease Airborne?
No, Ebola Virus Disease is only spread by direct contact with body fluids of infected individuals.
Since Ebola Virus Disease Is Not Airborne Why Do Doctors Taking Care Of Patients Wear Full Protective Equipment?
Ebola does not spread through the air. The reason health workers wear full protective equipment is because they may come into direct contact with the blood, diarrhea or vomit of an Ebola patient.
What Are the Symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease?
It takes between 2 to 21 days for symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease to appear. Infected people are not infectious i.e. cannot transmit Ebola until they begin to show symptoms. The first symptoms to appear are:
A sudden onset of fever
This is followed by another set of symptoms:
The late symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease are:
Bleeding from the gums
Blood in stools
Bleeding from eyes, ears, and nose
It is important to know that People infected with Ebola cannot transmit Ebola until they begin to show symptoms.
How Is Ebola Detected?
The early symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease closely resembles those of other diseases like malaria and typhoid fever. Only a blood test can confirm the presence (or absence) of Ebola Virus Disease. To confirm if a person has Ebola Virus Disease, blood samples are taken by health workers and tested in special laboratories. If you think you or someone you know has symptoms resembling Ebola Virus Disease, don’t hesitate to call. Not sure you have Ebola-related symptoms? Call 0800- EBOLA- HELP (Nigeria only) or use the Ebola Check
What Happens When a Person Is Diagnosed With Ebola?
People diagnosed with Ebola Virus Disease must be isolated immediately to prevent further spread of the infection. You can notify Health Authorities by calling 0800- EBOLA- HELP (Nigeria only). You can also contact us directly on our Social Media Pages.
People who have been in contact with the infected person are also contacted and monitored for signs of Ebola Virus Disease over a 21-day period. If you have been in contact with a recently diagnosed Ebola case, call 0800- EBOLA- HELP (Nigeria only) or contact us directly on Social Media.
How Is Ebola Treated?
There is currently no known cure or vaccine for Ebola Virus Disease. However, the chances of surviving the disease increases with early detection and good hospital care. People with Ebola Virus Disease must be treated at designated health facilities, not at home. Treating them at home is dangerous as they are likely to infect other family members who come in contact with their body fluids. If you need further clarification, call 0800- EBOLA- HELP (Nigeria only) or contact us directly on Social Media.
Do People Survive Ebola?
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently puts the average case fatality at 50%. This means that on average 1 in 2 people infected with the disease survive. Survival largely depends on the patient’s immunity, early detection and good medical care. This is why it is important that every potential case of Ebola is quickly reported to health authorities for prompt medical action.
Read stories of survivors
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Ebola Virus Disease is very deadly. Since the recent outbreak in March 2014, there have been over 17,000 reported cases with over 6,000 deaths. Therefore it is important that you learn how to prevent Ebola. The first step in preventing Ebola is accurate information and education on the Ebola Virus Disease (How Alert Are You? Take the Ebola Alert Quiz) (read ‘About Ebola’ here) The first category of prevention involves reducing transmission of Ebola Virus from animal hosts to humans.
Avoid contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes
Avoid eating the raw meat of the above animals.
If you’re handling animals, do so with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing.
Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
The second category of prevention involves prevention of human to human transmission.
Avoid direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms particularly with their bodily fluids. (What is direct contact?)
Health workers should wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment when taking care of infected patients.
Regular hand washing with soap and water is one of the most potent prevention techniques. Ebola Virus is killed by contact with soap and hospital-grade disinfectants. Where soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The third category of prevention involves prevention of further spread in places where there is an Ebola Outbreak.
Prompt identification of people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola.
Isolating identified cases to prevent further spread.
Monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days. (Who is a contact?)
Good hygiene, regular hand washing and maintenance of a clean environment.
Prompt and safe burial of the dead. Avoid contact with the dead bodies of infected persons. Burial of deceased infected persons should be supervised by health workers.
Health workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, irrespective of their presumed diagnosis. These precautions include:
basic hand hygiene
use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes and contact with infected body fluids and materials)
safe injection practices and
safe burial practices
When caring for Ebola patients, health workers should take additional precautions including:
face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles)
a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown
I don’t reside in (West) Africa. Can I get Ebola?
The answer above applies in this case. The increasing frequency of international travel means that an asymptomatic Ebola Virus Disease patient can arrive in another continent in hours. Currently, many countries have screening checkpoints at the ports of entry (airports and seaports). However, asymptomatic cases can still enter countries undetected. This is why everyone must remain Ebola Alert.
How Do I Report an Ebola Case?
If you know or suspect that someone around you may be exhibiting symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), call 0800- EBOLA- HELP (Nigeria only) or contact us directly on Social Media.
Is It Safe To Travel To (West) Africa?
According to WHO, the risk of a traveler becoming infected with the Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all of which are unlikely exposures for the average traveler. In any event, tourists are advised to avoid all such contacts.
Can an Ebola Survivor infect others?
Patients who survives Ebola Virus Disease no longer have the virus in their body fluids. However, the virus has been detected in the semen of men up to 7 weeks after they have recovered from the illness. There is therefore a possibility that men can still spread the virus through sexual intercourse. WHO advises men to avoid sexual intercourse for at least 7 weeks after recovery or wear condoms if having sexual intercourse during the 7 weeks post-recovery period.
Are Ebola Survivors Immune to Ebola for Life? Can they be Re-Infected?
Current evidence suggests that survivors of Ebola Virus Disease develop immunity to the disease for up to 10 years.
What are body fluids?
Body fluids include the following: saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen.
What does ‘direct contact’ mean?
Direct contact occurs when body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) touches any of the following:
An open cut, wound, or abrasion.
Can Ebola be spread by coughing or sneezing?
There is no evidence indicating that Ebola virus is spread by coughing or sneezing.
Can Ebola be prevented by drinking salt water?
Ebola cannot be prevent by drinking salt water or chlorine solutions.
Can Ebola be spread through mosquitoes?
There is no evidence to suggest that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.
Who Is a Contact?
People who have had contact with a confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease are listed as contacts. This does not mean they have the disease. Contacts are monitored for 21 days, after which if they do not show any symptoms, they are certified Ebola-free.
What Is Contact Tracing?
Contact Tracing is finding someone who has come in direct contact with a sick Ebola patient. Contacts are watched for signs of illness for 21 days starting form the last day they came in contact with the Ebola patient. If the contact develops a fever or other Ebola symptoms, they are immediately isolated, tested, provided care, and the cycle starts again - all of the new patients contact are found and watched for 21 days. Even one missed contact can keep the outbreak going.