In recent weeks, we have seen many reports on the Ebola epidemic. Mostly, this has been due to the fact that American aid workers were infected and brought back to the US for treatment. What seemed like something that only happened in a remote area was suddenly thrust into Atlanta’s own CDC/Emory Hospital. This left many of us wondering whether or not we should be concerned for our own safety.
Here are a few things that are important to know. The first Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks of Ebola among humans have appeared sporadically in Africa. Ebola viruses are now found in several African countries. Ebola is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus, although 8-10 days is most common.
Some who become sick with Ebola are able to recover. Others, who die, usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus. We don’t yet know why this is.
Although it is not certain, it is believed that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal.
Once in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways. This is through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:
Past Ebola outbreaks have occurred in the following countries:
The current (2014) Ebola outbreak is occurring in the following West African countries: