The spread of the Ebola virus has a certain déjà vu about it. You may recall that the AIDS virus, which began in the 1980s, was hosted by monkeys which then spread to humans? Well, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola’s initial host was fruit bats, which spread to monkeys, apes and pigs. So this is all sounding pretty familiar, yeah?
Ebola was actually identified in 1976, preceding the AIDS virus. There have been epidemics in certain places in Africa ever since but, this time, Ebola has already killed 4500 people in West Africa and it is now hopping around the globe. There are people coming and going from international airports daily and travel isn’t going to stop, just because of Ebola. We all need to be extra careful of contamination – regardless of what country we live in.
Ebola transition is similar to AIDS; via bodily fluids, like blood. However, it is far more infectious because it can be transmitted via saliva and sweat as well. It’s not airborne as early reports suggested. Dr. Bruce Ribner, who cares for Ebola patients, being treated at Emory University Hospital, Atlanta said that even the skin of patients is potentially infectious. Therefore, Ebola is not only within the person, it also lies on their surface.
To stop the spread, germ control is essential. Regularly wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Ebola is first identified by a high fever, so if you see anyone who looks unwell and sweating due to a high fever, stay clear. If you are experiencing these symptoms, head directly to a GP. Many doctors surgeries around the country have signs which specify, anyone experiencing a high fever needs to tell staff immediately, so they can be isolated from other patients inside the clinics. It’s not a joke and we all need to be vigilant.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated guidelines for health workers, which are more specific than previous recommendations. This is after a health worker in the US contracted Ebola while caring for a patient. Previous guidelines were determined to be too confusing and health workers have been put at risk due to unsure practices.
From contagion to death takes only a matter of weeks, not years like AIDS. Dr. James Curran, dean of Emory University’s school of public health and leader of the CDC’s task force on AIDS in the mid-1980s, said that unlike AIDS sufferers, who may not have any symptoms for years and unknowingly spread the disease, Ebola sufferers show symptoms quickly. This may be a key difference of the two viruses. Curran, went on the say that “It potentially gives us a way to break the back of the epidemic”.
This is excellent news. Unlike the wild spread of AIDS, which has occurred since the 1980s and taken millions of lives, Ebola – although far more deadly – maybe easier to eradicate. More good news is that unlike the AIDS virus, which was around for more than a decade before it was thoroughly understood and investigated, the WHO, CDC and government officials have learned that a fast response could potentially save millions. If the AIDS virus has taught them anything; they know they have to contain the spread of Ebola quickly before it gets completely out of control.
Image via http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/2014/08/19/kaiser-ebola-patient/14316293/