The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is deadlier than any in recorded history, infecting 1,200 people and killing 672 so far. According to the United Nations, the fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60% although the disease can kill up to 90%.
United States health officials are monitoring the Ebola outbreak and are saying the risk of the deadly disease spreading to the U.S. is remote. But though the disease is wreaking havoc thousands of miles away, it’s better to learn a little more about the virus in the unlikely event it makes its way to the United States.
The virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids of someone who is infected. Symptoms include a sudden fever usually accompanied by joint and muscle aches which typically progress to vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases, internal and external bleeding.
There is no known vaccine for the disease but it can be treated like other viruses if diagnosed early. The CDC recommends administering liquids and electrolytes as well as monitoring blood pressure.
Two American aid workers in Liberia have contracted the Ebola virus and it has killed the Liberian husband of an American woman who said he could have carried the disease back to the U.S.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice tells MSNBC, “We are very much present and active in trying to help the countries of the region and the international authorities like the World Health Organization address and contain this threat. But it is indeed a very worrying epidemic.”
In Nigeria, the most populous nation in sub-saharan Africa, the Lagos state health ministry is monitoring more than 50 people at the hospital where the American aid worker was taken after he collapsed at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed Airport.
Alarmingly, there are reports of doctors contracting the virus from patients they are working to heal. Health officials say the virus is not contagious until victims begin to show symptoms.
Since it was first reported in February, this current outbreak has been concentrated in three West African states: Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.
Most of the people diagnosed have been quarantined. Nigeria has placed all entry points into the country on “red alert.” But the threat of the virus spreading into other regions remains a real and present danger and authorities have resolved to remain vigilant.