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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Update on Deadly Ebola Virus -- Now in the U.S.

What you should know about the Ebola virus

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently confirmed that the Ebola virus has now shown up in the U.S. in Texas. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes Ebola as "one of the world's most virulent diseases." Why? Previous outbreaks have killed up to 90 percent of those who contracted the disease.

Symptoms

According to WHO, the virus starts out with fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. As the disease progresses, these symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and sometimes internal and external bleeding. Symptoms usually show up about 8-10 days after a person has been infected.

Causes

The virus comes from animals and is believed to have started with the fruit bat. In order for humans to spread the disease to other humans, there generally has to be direct contact with bodily fluids, secretions, the mucous membrane or broken skin of an infected person, according to WHO. Although there is as yet no known cure, the present outbreak has about a 47 percent survival rate.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the Ebola virus. The outbreak was in Nigeria and most of the deaths had occurred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. However, according to the WHO, "Since December, there have been 7,492 cases and 3,439 deaths attributed to the Ebola virus in five countries in West Africa and the USA.

Containing the disease

Health workers who are travelling and working in Africa to help contain the disease are at high risk of being infected, in spite of strict precautions. The CDC continues to experiment with vaccines in hopes to find one that will effectively treat the disease. In the meantime, they are focusing on keeping the disease contained in Africa.

For the latest information on the Ebola virus, visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/index.html
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