With the hype surrounding Ebola and the epicenter Sierra Leone a mere 15 1/2 flight from New York City it is past time to arm yourselves with facts. Ebola is known in medical circles as Ebola virus disease or EVD. It was first identified in 1976 in the Republic of Congo near the Ebola River. That first identified out break claimed 280 victims. Since that time five distinct species have been identified. They are Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), TAI ebolavirus (TAFV) And Reston ebolavirus (RESTV). The first three are responsible for the current and former outbreaks in Africa. The remaining two have not resulted in outbreaks and the last one has never been reported in humans. (WHO information)
There are no proven theories as to where the virus came from but all studies seem to point to the fruit bat as a carrier of the virus. There have also been reports of both monkeys and pigs carrying and surviving the virus. The jump to human infection could be from bites or ingesting the meat of an infected animal. In some parts of the world monkey meat is considered a delicacy. Human to human transmission appears to be thru the transfer of bodily fluids. This could be as innocuous as getting the sweat of an infected person on your hands. The virus would then enter thru the pours of the uninfected. So far airborne transmission has not been identified.
Once infected the symptoms take from two to up to twenty one days to appear. One test case showed traces of the virus sixty one days after exposure. During the incubation period the carrier is not contagious. Once the infected begin to show signs of the virus they are highly contagious. The first signs like any virus manifest itself by fever, weakness muscle pain and a sore throat. Blood tests at this time would show low white blood and platelets count and elevated liver enzymes as the body begins to fight.
The advanced signs are vomiting, rashes, impaired Kidney and liver functions and bleeding both internally and externally. There is currently no known treatment for EVD. The best modern medicine can do is replace lost fluids and hope for the best. The mortality rate is between 50% to 90% .Most patients die within ten days of infection from shock as a result of internal bleeding. The only way to fight this contagion is to quarantine those infected. This way the virus dies with the victim. The body and all items that came in contact with the infected must be sterilized. This could be accomplished with detergents or the surer method of burning all infected items and victims.
All hope is not lost, whether you agree with it or not the return of the two American doctors will allow experts to study the virus closely. There has been some progress on a vaccine but no proven results. The best hope may come from a previous outbreak in 1995. At that time they found that injecting a pint of blood from the rare Ebola survivor increases the chance of survival up to 90%. The Dr. Kent Brantly currently in a US hospital under isolation was originally infected back in mid-July. On Thursday (07/31) he received a unit of blood from an Ebola survivor. The latest reports say he is improving. (20 year old cure)
These are the facts of the spreading virus. With this knowledge in hand you can assess the danger of our borders being as secure as the Social Security lock box and the chance of an uncontrollable out break as a result of modern air travel. Consider yourself praemontus, praemunitus, or loosely translated forewarned is forearmed.