What you need to know about Ebola virus disease

First time it hit in the 1976, Ebola didn’t cause as many casualties as it has done now. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the total number of deaths from the current outbreak has reached 7,000, which is greater than all the previous outbreaks combined.

The current outbreak occurred in the West Africa around in March. Previously known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has now infected over 16,169 people. Five types of viral species are found. The current epidemic was caused by Zaire ebola virus; this is a more complex form of outbreak that is proving to be difficult to control. Hence the WHO Director-General declared the outbreak a worldwide threat and emergency.

The natural reservoir is suspected to be the fruit bat and transmissions in humans is through exposure to feces or other bodily fluids. Human to human transmission is through contact with secretions and other bodily fluids.

The first signs to appear are headaches, muscular pain, fatigue, fever and sore throat, followed by diarrhea, rash, vomiting and possible liver and kidney failure. Survival rate of those infected is from 25 to 90 percent and an average of 50 percent. Laboratory investigation shows low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

The current Ebola outbreak started in Guinea, spread to Sierra Leone and then to Liberia, but according to WHO, the greatest death casualties have been recorded in Liberia, Amounting up to 4,181 deaths out of the total of 7,244 cases. Sierra Leone saw 1,461 deaths out of 6,802 cases while Guinea shared 1,284 deaths out of 2,123 cases.

Other cases were also seen in other countries in the western region. 8 were reported both in Mali and Nigeria. Mali faced 6 deaths and has two survivors while all cases in Nigeria suffered death. One case was reported in Senegal. Nigeria and Senegal have been declared to be Ebola free while the president of Mali has confirmed that there are no more cases of Ebola in the country.

Outside of Africa, there have been some traveler related cases. The U.S saw 4 cases out which one has proved to be fatal. One nurse in Spain was infected with the virus but has been cured of the disease.

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