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Ebola - What Are The Symptoms? How Is It Spread? Learn All The Facts About Ebola And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

The Ebola virus disease outbreak has taken West Africa by storm, killing thousands and most likely, still even more to come. It has been reported by the World Health Organisation that this deadly virus has already killed more than 4951 people. The outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013 and has since spread to neighbouring countries, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. As yet, the Ebola outbreak has not been contained. What are the symptoms and how is this virus spread? Here are the facts that you should know about Ebola and how you can stay safe.


1. How is the Ebola virus spread?

The virus is spread to humans through close contact with infected animals such as bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines and forest antelope. The disease is then spread from person to person through contact with secretions, blood, organs or other bodily fluids. It is not spread by being in close or casual contact with someone – sitting next to someone who has been infected with Ebola is not believed to transmit the disease.

You would need to be in direct contact with the infected person’s bodily fluids. In other words, if an infected person’s tears, saliva, mucous, sweat or semen is transferred onto you or they bleed on you – then, you would definitely be at risk as their bodily fluids have transmitted from one person to another.  Most people become infected by the Ebola virus when they are caring for other infected people – this happens by directly touching the infected person’s body or by cleaning up bodily fluids such as vomit, urine or stool that carries infected blood. 

Recently, there have been lots of online information which suggests that it’s possible to get Ebola from an infected person who sneezes on you. Experts claim that this is completely untrue and it is most unlikely that Ebola can be spread through a sneeze. Ebola is not a respiratory disease and doesn’t cause people to sneeze.
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2. What are the symptoms of Ebola?

These symptoms of Ebola start quite suddenly – between 2 to 21 days is the incubation period of the disease. During this period, you are carrying the Ebola infection without displaying any symptoms of illness. The first symptoms of Ebola that are experienced include a fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, sore throat and a general feeling of weakness. These symptoms are followed by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, abdominal pain, impaired kidney and liver functioning and accompanied with Ebola’s most prominent feature of bleeding. The infected person bleeds internally and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose and mouth.
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3. Who is at risk?

There is a risk of the Ebola virus being imported in South Africa because people travel frequently between southern and western African countries. The risk is, however, low because infection results from direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions of infected patients and use of contaminated needles and syringes as well as unprotected exposure to contaminated body fluids. This means that anyone who cares for an infected person, handles their fluid samples or blood is at risk of being infected with Ebola – hospital workers, laboratory workers and family members of those infected are most at risk.  
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4. How is the Ebola virus treated?

Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus disease. If any area or person is affected by an outbreak, immediate quarantine is the first step. Patients who have been diagnosed with Ebola are placed in isolation in intensive care. Their blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are monitored and maintained at the right levels and their organs are supported. It is common for patients to be dehydrated and fluids are therefore given intravenously. New vaccines and drugs are being tested and developed.
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5. How to prevent the spread of Ebola?

It is very important to take strict precautions to prevent and control the spread of the Ebola virus. Areas affected by an outbreak should be quarantined and patients isolated immediately. Health workers and caregivers must avoid contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola infected patients by:
Wearing protective clothing such as face masks, goggles, gowns and gloves
• Being extra careful when handling a patient’s secretions, blood or catheter as well as when handling a patient’s drip
• Sterilising and disposing of used needles and disposable equipment thoroughly
• Disinfecting non-disposable medical equipment before reusing
Disposing of patients bodily waste and secretions thoroughly
Washing hands with soap and water frequently and properly. Also recommended to use alcohol rub if soap is not available
• Washing disposable gloves with soap and water after using them – disposing of gloves and then, washing hands thoroughly 
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6. Is there travel advice for travellers to high risk areas?

For those travelling to high risk areas in West Africa, they should follow these safety precautions to protect themselves against Ebola:
Wash hands frequently and thoroughly using lots of soap and water as this destroys the virus. Use alcohol rub if soap is not available.
• Check that fruit and vegetables are washed properly before eating them
Avoid physical contact with anyone who may be infected with the Ebola virus
Steer clear of overcrowded places where you may also be at risk for being exposed to the Ebola virus
• Do not touch or handle dead animals or their raw meat
Do not eat “bush meat” , especially in Ebola high risk areas
A strong immune system is the best defense against attack from any virus, including Ebola. Feelgood Health has a natural immune boosting remedy called Immunity Plus, which helps to support the immune system and protect your system against infection. For more info, click here.
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For any herbal or homeopathic remedies, please go to www.feelgoodhealth.co.za or visit Feelgood Health, Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town, tel: 021 797 0193

 

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