Gist: Questions and Answers about Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever  (Read 3938 times)

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Questions and Answers about Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
by flukky01 « on: July 30, 2014, 11:07:08 AM »

What is Ebola hemorrhagic fever?
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared sporadically since its initial recognition in 1976. Approximately 1850 cases are known since then. The mortality is estimated to 65 %. The disease is caused by a virus.

Where is Ebola virus found in nature?
The exact origin, locations, and natural habitat (known as the "natural reservoir") of Ebola virus remain unknown. However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is zoonotic (animal-borne) and is normally maintained in an animal host that is native to the African continent.

Where do cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever occur?
Confirmed cases of Ebola HF have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo.
Ebola HF typically appears in sporadic outbreaks, usually spread within a health-care setting. It is likely that sporadic, isolated cases occur as well, but go unrecognized.

How is Ebola virus spread?
Infections with Ebola virus are acute. There is no carrier state which means that an infected person is not contagious until signs and symptoms develop.
After the first case-patient in an outbreak setting is infected, the virus can be transmitted in several ways. People can be exposed to Ebola virus from direct contact with the blood and/or secretions of an infected person. Thus, the virus is often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for infected persons. People can also be exposed to Ebola virus through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
During outbreaks the disease is frequently spread within clinics and hospitals. It includes both types of transmission described above. In African health-care facilities, patients are often cared for without the use of a mask, gown, or gloves. Exposure to the virus has occurred when health care workers treated individuals with Ebola HF without wearing these types of protective clothing. In addition, when needles or syringes are used, they may not be of the disposable type, or may not have been sterilized, but only rinsed before reinsertion into multi-use vials of medicine. If needles or syringes become contaminated with virus and are then reused, numerous people can become infected.
The risk for airborne transmission is low. It seems unlikely that Ebola virus would be transmitted to other passengers during an air flight.
The incubation period is two to 21 days.

What are the symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever?
The onset of illness is abrupt and is characterized by fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.

How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever diagnosed?
In the beginning of an outbreak the diagnosis I made on clinical ground. Laboratory tests can only be made in a qualified laboratory or sent to highly specialized unit.

How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever treated?
There is no standard treatment for Ebola HF. Patients receive supportive therapy. This consists of balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections.

How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever prevented?
As the primary mode of person-to-person transmission is contact with contaminated blood, secretions or body fluids, any person who has had close physical contact with patients should be kept under strict surveillance, i.e. body temperature checks twice a day, with immediate hospitalization and strict isolation recommended in case of the onset of fever.
Hospital personnel who come into close contact with patients or contaminated materials without barrier nursing attire must be considered as contacts and followed up accordingly.
As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing. Cleaning your hands often, using soap and water (or waterless alcohol-based hand rubs when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled with blood or body fluids), removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission. 
Avoid contact with dead animals, especially primates.
Do not eat “bush meat” (wild animals, including primates, sold for consumption as food in local markets).
Summary: The conclusion is that there is extremely low risk for the business traveler to get Ebola hemorrhagic fever. For transmission of the virus very close contact with people who have developed the illness is needed. Outbreaks are normally limited to a certain geographical area where medical staff and family members are at special risk. There is virtually no risk for transmission in aircrafts, busses, airports offices etc.

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