Ebola: It's here -- now what?

Ebola Virus Particles
Ebola Virus Particles

By KAREN LATIMER (AOL Health Expert)

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S. immediately conjures images of quarantines, doctors in protective suits and panic in the streets. The truth is, you don't have to panic, but you may want to know some facts about this very dangerous virus and what it means this close to home:

1. This Ebola outbreak is the first Ebola epidemic and is the largest in history. It was first diagnosed in several countries in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone). About 6,600 people have been proven infected, a little less than half of these have died from the virus. The World Health Organization thinks actual numbers are much higher.

2. This is an international crisis, and the challenges which need to be faced extend beyond the medical - the financial, social, safety and humanitarian issues are vast and overwhelming.

Ebola symptoms, which appear 2-21 days after infection include:
-Weakness and muscle pain
-Headache and sore throat
-Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain
-Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Late symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever include:
-Bleeding from eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum
-Rash involving the whole body, which contains blood
-Genital swelling
-Increased feeling of pain

There is no cure and patients are treated with supportive care and on a symptom by symptoms basis.

Ebola is not spread through the air, like a cold or the flu. To be infected, you have to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola. Sexual partners of an infected person and medical workers are at greatest risk.

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AOL On Call - Vaccinate! Don't Procrastinate!
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