Our View: Ebola and how worried we should be

Campus Carrier Editorial Board

With the deadliest outbreak of Ebola since its discovery occurring in Africa and the first cases being reported in America, many are asking just what is Ebola and how alarmed should we be about it.

First, just what is the Ebola disease? An article from The Independent on Oct. 7 report that Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in a series of countries including Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Named after the Ebola River that runs through the Democratic Republic of Congo, it will attack the internal organs of those infected. Symptoms can include a fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches, and a sore throat. These can also lead to vomiting diarrhea, rashes, impaired liver or kidney functions or sometimes external or internal bleeding.

While the disease is believed to have originated in fruit bats and other African animals, a fact sheet from the World Health Organization last updated in September explains that Ebola is spread between humans by direct contact. This includes contact with blood, waste, organs and other bodily fluids of an Ebola victim or items that have been in contact with these. The disease has an incubation period of anywhere between two to 21 days. The article also reports that Ebola can be confused for numerous other diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, and meningitis. The disease can be confirmed as Ebola in a number of ways including tests and electron microscopy.

Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s fact sheet, can be treated by balancing a patient’s fluids, maintaining their oxygen status, and maintaining their blood pressure. Despite this, there is no cure yet for Ebola.

The first few cases of Ebola in America were recently reported. The first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States is Thomas Eric Duncan. An Oct. 7 USA Today article reports that he is currently in critical condition and receiving an experimental drug. This will be the first test of this drug, brincidofovit, on humans. Duncan is currently being treated in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Currently, a number of experimental Ebola treating drugs are being used. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who got the disease while doing missionary work in Liberia, are being treated with the drug ZMapp, which the manufacture reports there are no more supplies of.

While the situation in America may just be starting, the situation in Africa is getting worse daily. According to a BBC article published on Oct. 2, by the end of September 3, 439 Ebola deaths had been reported in just four countries (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria). The total number of those infected fluctuates between around 7,000 and 20,000 people. It has been declared an “international public health emergency” by the United Nations and places to treat the victims are running low in many countries.

While the Ebola outbreak has rightfully caused concern among many Americans, there is a very low risk of getting the disease unless you have come in contact with someone suffering from Ebola’s bodily fluids. However, while there is a low chance of the disease in America, many in Africa are suffering horribly and need help. People are scared and children are left without parents. While this disease may not be affecting or infecting many Americans, on another continent people are suffering who will soon need the world’s help and support.

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