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The Current Ebola Outbreak

Updated on June 7, 2019
stephaniedas profile image

Stephanie is a public health student with a special interest in emerging infectious diseases.

A hospital in Sierra Leone where ebola patients were treated.
A hospital in Sierra Leone where ebola patients were treated. | Source

The current ebola virus outbreak is the second worst on record.

You probably remember the worst ebola virus outbreak on record, which occurred in Western Africa between 2013-2016. Did you know that the Democratic Republic of Congo is currently experiencing an outbreak? As of June 2019, over 2000 cases had been confirmed in the region, and the World Health Organization has warned that this is the second worst outbreak on record.

What is ebola?

Ebola Virus Disease is caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, a virus that infects humans and several other animals. The virus attacks cells from the immune system and causes a severe illness which can be fatal. Signs and symptoms can mimic other diseases that are common in central Africa, so the only way to confirm that someone has the virus is to do a blood test. Right now, there is no danger of contracting the virus outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ebola virus, enlarged with an electron microscope
Ebola virus, enlarged with an electron microscope | Source

Can you treat ebola?

There is no specific treatment for Ebola Virus Disease. Because it is a virus, the sick person's immune system must fight it off. However, healthcare workers can treat the symptoms of the disease by controlling a person's fever and keeping them hydrated. Swift treatment increases a person's odd of survival. There are antiretroviral drugs, but the results of these medications have been inconclusive.

A healthcare worker takes a patient's temperature to determine if she might have Ebola.
A healthcare worker takes a patient's temperature to determine if she might have Ebola. | Source

Is there a vaccine for ebola?

Yes, there is a vaccine for ebola that is believed to be very effective. This vaccine is not available in the United States, but healthcare providers are working very hard to vaccinate people in the Democratic Republic of Congo quickly to prevent ebola virus from spreading.

Scientists work with blood samples to study Ebola virus.
Scientists work with blood samples to study Ebola virus. | Source

Why is ebola spreading again?

Many people believed that ebola was a thing of the past after the 2013-2016 outbreak ended. However, this virus lives in wildlife, so it is possible that humans came into contact with it again, causing a new outbreak. It is also possible that it was spread by survivors who were no longer sick, but continued to spread the virus unknowingly. The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently experiencing violence, which makes it difficult for doctors and nurses to deliver care to people who need help. When people do not receive treatment and education about the disease, they are more likely to spread it to their families, friends, and communities.

It is very important to support the World Health Organization, the International Rescue Committee, and other organizations that are working hard to contain the virus. If doctors and nurses can do their work in the area, they can save many lives and stop the virus from spreading to other countries in Africa and the rest of the world.

This CDC graphic shows how ebola can spread from animals to humans.
This CDC graphic shows how ebola can spread from animals to humans.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Stephanie Das


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