As a traveler, it’s important to stay up to date on health matters around the world. Doing so can ensure the safety of yourself and your family. The Ebola outbreak has become a concerning matter as it continues to spread through West Africa- know the facts and if you’re at risk.
In mid-March there were a total of 49 Ebola cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from south-eastern Guinea. By early April the WHO began working with national authorities in response to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the number of cases quickly increased. As of July 31, 2014, there were 1,323 reported cases and 729 confirmed deaths, according to the WHO. Cases of Ebola have since spread and appeared not only in Guinea (460 cases; 339 deaths), but also in Liberia (329 cases; 156 deaths), Nigeria (1 case; 1 death), and Sierra Leone (533 cases; 233 deaths).
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Although multiple organizations like the Red Cross, the WHO, UNICEF and UNHCR are partnering to help stop the outbreak from continuing to spread, travelers must also be aware of the Ebola outbreak and how to protect themselves and others from the contracting and spreading the virus.
How it’s Spread
Ebola is not a virus that you can catch through the air, such as the flu, it is instead spread through bodily fluids like sweat, saliva and blood. Along with direct contact to fluids, it can also be spread through indirect contact on items like bedding, clothing and needles. This fatal illness has up to a 90% death rate- meaning every preventative measure should be taken to not contract the illness.
The Incubation Period
The incubation period, or the time from infection to symptoms, is anywhere from 2 days to twenty-one days. Until symptoms of Ebola are shown, the infected individual is not contagious.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These are then followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Even if you have not traveled to one of the currently infected areas- if you experience these symptoms you should notify a medical professional immediately.
There is not currently a treatment for Ebola. However, some individuals are able to heal with the assistance of intense medical care and hydration.
If you will be traveling to the affected areas, or anywhere near the affected countries, use caution as to whom and what you come in contact with.
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