The deadly Ebola virus has spread quickly and widely, taking many lives since its outbreak in March 2014. Initially effecting regions like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to Mali and the United States, with 14,400 cases and a total death count of over 5400, the threat of a rising pandemic looms over the world.
In such a scary scenario, ignorance and myths can fuel the spread of the virus. Awareness is the first step to wiping out any disease and hence everyone needs to know the possible reason of the cause, symptoms and precautionary measures. We have already covered the history, symptoms and precautions of Ebola in our previous article; but there are still many questions in everyone’s mind. Let’s discuss more about Ebola to clear your suspicions and misconceptions.
Here are the answers to the most common doubts about Ebola:
Is Ebola airborne?
The Ebola virus is not a disease that spreads through airborne means. It is transmitted through body fluids like blood, urine, sweat, breast milk and semen. You can get infected by the virus only if you come in contact with these fluids through someone who has the disease. However the virus is also present in large droplets secreted from the infected person’s body, like sneezes. Although it is not proven that Ebola spreads through cough or sneezes, it is best to quarantine infected people and not come in close contact with them without necessary precautions.
Is Ebola curable?
There is no definite cure for Ebola; research is on for a complete cure. However, many antiviral medications are administered to patients, for example, Favipiravir treatment was administered to a French nun in Liberia, and she was cured successfully. Many infected people have been died due to lack of treatment options and hence possible antiviral treatments are being researched. The primary objective is to isolate the individual to prevent spread and to administer antiviral medications to relieve symptoms.
Will Ebola become an epidemic?
Ebola has been declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization. Yet it is highly unlikely that Ebola will spread over the globe and reach pandemic levels. This is because in most of the developed countries the health infrastructure is well established and patients can be isolated on time to prevent the spread of the disease to others. Security measures, quality healthcare and constant vigilance will prevent an Ebola epidemic.
Can Ebola spread through mosquitoes?
There is no solid evidence that proves Ebola spreads through mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes bite humans and even if a mosquito bites an infected person and sucks their blood, they do not immediately bite another person. They rest on trees or walls for hours or even days to digest the blood, nourish their eggs and lay the eggs. When they finally bite the next individual, they inject their saliva which does not contain the virus. Only mammals like humans, monkeys, bats can get infected and spread the disease.
Is it safe to travel to Africa?
Currently Ebola is prevalent in West Africa, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against traveling to West Africa to prevent exposure to Ebola virus and avoid the risk of spreading the disease. Unless it is very essential and unavoidable, do not travel to countries where Ebola has been diagnosed.
Are some people more at risk than others?
Only the people who come in close contact with infected persons are at a risk of contracting the virus from them. This includes doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel who are treating patients in the hospitals. Family members are more at risk as they live with the infected person. In addition, those who deal with deceased bodies during burial ceremonies are also at high risk, as the virus can be transmitted to them too.
Do pets get Ebola?
Up to this day, no dog or cat has been reported as being sick with the virus, showing any symptoms, or spreading it to other animals or humans. Even if they get infected with the virus through contact with body fluids of an infected person, they do not develop the disease. Fruit bats and primates (apes or monkeys) have been known to get the disease and transmit the virus to humans.
Can Ebola virus survive outside human body?
Yes Ebola can live outside the human body. On doorknobs, countertops and other dry surfaces, the virus can survive for several hours. In body fluids, like blood, the virus can live for several days, if room temperature conditions are prevalent. However in hospitals and homes it can easily be killed with disinfectants like bleach.
The key to solving the Ebola crisis is awareness, proper care and timely treatment. If you experience any odd symptoms linked with Ebola or are traveling back from Ebola affected countries, be wary and vigilant. Be on the lookout for friends and family, as well. With prevention measures, quarantine and treatment, Ebola can be combated and eradicated.