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Ebola epidemic explodes throughout West Africa

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Doctors Without Borders reports that it has been completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of Ebola cases spreading throughout the West African nations of Guinea (where it has already killed more than 264 people), Sierra Leone (49 including 4 in the capital city of Monrovia) and Liberia (24). In fact, there have been 47 new cases and 4 deaths from the deadly virus this week alone. As a result, travel and trade restrictions have been imposed in the affected areas, although it has not stopped the operation of mining companies in the three nations as yet.

It is believed that the initial outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) (which was first discovered in the Congo in 1976) came from contact with infected animals (most likely fruit bats), including eating infected bush meat, although human to human transmission can occur from direct contact with blood, feces and other bodily fluids from infected people as well as needles and other medical equipment exposed to them. It has also been spread during the embalming of the dead.

Manifestation of symptoms usually takes about two weeks from time of exposure, but can be as long as 25 days and resembles a sudden onset of the flu beginning with fever or chills, sore throat, severe headaches, malaise, diahrrea, difficulty breathing and swallowing, red eyes and rash and weakness as well as pain in the chest, joints and muscles. The worst cases also involve bleeding inside and outside the body (hence the name), which eventually leads to the breakdown of organs and death. According to the CDC, those that do survive may suffer long-term effects such as “as inflammation of the testicles, joint pains, muscle pains, skin peeling, or hair loss. Eye symptoms, such as light sensitivity, excess tearing, iritis, iridocyclitis, choroiditis and blindness.” It has also been reported that the disease may “survive in the sperm of some survivors, which could give rise to secondary infections and disease from sexual intercourse.”

To learn more about Ebola readers can contact the CDC at 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333 800-232-4636

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