The deadly Ebola virus outbreak has spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone from neighboring Guinea, health officials say.
The Ebola outbreak has killed 78 victims so far and the death toll is growing daily. So far four deaths in Liberia and Sierra Leone have been attributed to the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever. 2 health care workers are among the 118 new cases of Ebola, ABC News reports. The Ebola outbreak in Guinea is making headlines all over the world, primarily because there is no known cure or treatment for Ebola.
Ebola is 90% fatal. When infection occurs, the devastating symptoms usually begin abruptly. The incubation period (from infection to onset of symptoms) is 2 days to 3 weeks.
The public health concern is so great that Senegal has closed its borders crossing with Guinea until further notice.
Ebola is caused by one of four or five known Ebola viruses. It is unknown which virus caused the outbreak in Guinea. Ebola is highly infectious and contagious. The virus is usually spread via body fluids. The primary source of infection is the dead carcasses of chimpanzee or other primates. Bats and rodents are also known carriers of the infection.
The virus is transmitted to humans who come into contact with or handle the dead carcasses of animals. Transmission is also likely through the oral mucosa (lining of the mouth) and the whites of our eyes (conjunctiva).
Certain Ebola viruses can be transmitted through the air and inhaled into the lungs. For this reason Ebola is categorized as a Class A biological weapon.
Signs and Symptoms
The virus spreads quickly in poor, underdeveloped countries where basic hygiene and hand washing are not routinely practiced. Since Ebola is highly contagious, even after the patient is dead, bodies are cremated immediately.
An Ebola outbreak is not likely to occur in the United States where hand washing, needle disposal and sanitation techniques are strictly adhered to. Once a patient is identified in the U.S. the patient is isolated from other patients to prevent further spread of the infection.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More Info On the Web
Ebola virus disease - WHO International
Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever - WebMD
Ebola hemorrhagic fever - Medline Plus
Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
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