Since the recent outbreak of the often fatal virus in West Africa many questions have arisen about Ebola and how to prevent the spread. With the help of the NHS Choices website here are three questions and their answers…
What are the symptoms?
An infected person will typically develop a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, and intense muscle weakness. These symptoms start suddenly, between 2 and 21 days after becoming infected, but usually after 5-7 days.
Diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, stomach pain and impaired kidney and liver function follow.
The patient then bleeds internally, and may also bleed from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.
Ebola virus disease is fatal in 50-90% of cases. The sooner a person is given care, the better the chances that they will survive.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who cares for an infected person or handles their blood or fluid samples is at risk of becoming infected. Hospital workers, laboratory workers and family members are at greatest risk.
Strict infection control procedures and wearing protective clothing minimises this risk. Simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus.
How is it treated?
There’s currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus disease, although potential new vaccines and drug therapies are being developed and tested.
Patients need to be placed in isolation in intensive care. Dehydration is common, so fluids may be given directly into a vein (intravenously). Blood oxygen levels and blood pressure need to be maintained at the right level and body organs supported while the patient’s body fights the disease and any other infections are treated.
The likelihood of catching Ebola virus disease is considered very low unless you’ve travelled to a known infected area and had direct contact with a person with Ebola-like symptoms, or had contact with an infected animal or contaminated objects.
To Read the full NHS Choices article click here.