By Staff Reporter
Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) which has provided emergency medical services in Guinea since 2001, surged its in-country staff, in part to more broadly deliver public health information to Ebola-prone communities.
Ebola if contracted, Ebola is one of the world’s most deadly diseases and has spread in Guinea and beyond borders to Liberia with neighbouring countries like Senegal and Sierra Leone closing their borders.
Over 100,000 buildings mapped in Guinea where Ebola broke out
In the past 5 days the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and volunteers mapped over 100,000 buildings and hundreds of miles of roads in Guinea where Ebola broke out.
In 2007, MSF entirely contained an epidemic of Ebola in Uganda.
Facts on Ebola
- The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire)
- Ebola first appeared in 1976 in simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, DRC.
- The first outbreak of 318 cases killed 280 in very quick succession in Zaire ( now DRC)
- In Sudan the virus spread quickly killing 156.
- The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name
- Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus
- The case-fatality rate varies from 25 to 90 percent, depending on the strain
- It is estimated there have been over 1,800 cases of Ebola, with nearly 1,300 deaths.
What is Ebola
- The Ebola virus causes viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body and are often accompanied by bleeding.
- The Ebola virus is made up of five species:
- Bundibugyo, Ivory Coast, Reston, Sudan and Zaire, named after their places of origin.
- Four of these five have caused disease in humans.
- While the Reston virus can infect humans, no illnesses or deaths have been reported.
What are Ebola’s symptoms?
- Early symptoms of the Ebola virus involve sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These symptoms can appear two to 21 days after infection.
- The WHO says these non-specific early symptoms can be mistaken for signs of diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, meningitis or even the plague.
- MSF says some patients may also develop a rash, red eyes, hiccups, chest pains and difficulty breathing and swallowing.
- The early symptoms progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
How is it treated?
There are no specific treatments for Ebola. MSF says patients are isolated and then supported by health care workers.
“This consists of hydrating the patient, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure and treating them for any complicating infections,” it says.
How does it spread?
- The WHO says it is believed that fruit bats may be the natural host of the Ebola virus in Africa, passing on the virus to other animals.
- Humans contract Ebola through contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals.
- The WHO says in Africa there have been documented cases of humans falling ill after contact with dead or ill chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines.
- It says Ebola later spreads from human-to-human via contact with bodily fluids containing the virus.
- The virus can be spread through contact with an object contaminated with infected secretions.
- Direct contact with the corpses of Ebola victims can also result in infection and the virus can be transmitted via infected semen up to seven weeks after clinical recovery.
An MSF nurse treats an Ebola patient during an outbreak in Uganda in 2007© Claude Mahoudeau
Diagnosing Ebola is difficult because the early symptoms, such as red eyes and rashes, are common.
Ebola infections can only be diagnosed definitively in the laboratory by five different tests.
Such tests are an extreme biohazard risk and should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.
A number of human-to-human transmissions have occurred due to a lack of protective clothing.
“Health workers are particularly susceptible to catching it so, along with treating patients, one of our main priorities is training health staff to reduce the risk of them catching the disease whilst caring for patients,” said Henry Gray, MSF’s emergency coordinator, during an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda in 2012.
“We have to put in place extremely rigorous safety procedures to ensure that no health workers are exposed to the virus – through contaminated material from patients or medical waste infected with Ebola.”
-MSF & CNN