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With 8,033 cases and 3,866 deaths (as of 5 October 2014) Ebola can be termed as one of the largest, deadliest, and complex epidemic the world has ever witnessed. While the epidemic has its dominance in the West African countries, yet of late, one case of Ebola was traced each in the United States and Spain as well. What is it all about? How does it spread? Is there any preventive measures? What are the symptoms? Where did it all begin? Since its outbreak people have been confronted with several questions.

Previously referred to as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Ebola is a virus, a severe, deadly illness in humans. The Ebola virus disease abbreviated as EVD spreads through the Ebola virus (EBOV). It is not clearly known how the outbreak started, but it is assumed that the initial transmission of the virus took place by human contact with an animal’s infected body fluids. In the human population today, the virus is largely being transmitted through human- to- human contact as observed by the World Health Organization. The virus is transmitted through such bodily fluids as stool, saliva, blood, urine or semen. The disease is, however, not airborne nor a food borne or water borne illness.

Though the first case was spotted in a remote village in Central Africa, the outbreak today is prevalent in some major rural and urban areas of Western Africa. The most affected African countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea with few cases observed in Nigeria and Senegal as well. The symptoms of the virus usually emerge in the later stages anywhere between 2 to 21 days or even 8-10 days. Initially one experiences sudden fever, stomach pain, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue in the initial phase, this is then followed by diarrhea, vomiting, rash, problems in liver function, and impairment of the kidney. Internal and external bleeding is also common in this stage.

Unfortunately, there is still no effective or specific treatment though there are people who have survived Ebola. Immediate medical attention, early supportive care, prevention of dehydration, and treatment of specific symptoms are known to improve the chances of survival. WBAMA101014

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