What is Ebola? Truth behind deadly virus threatening world

The rapid growth and spread of the highly infectious Ebola virus has evolved into a major concern for the World Health Organisation.

So far nearly 4,000 people in West Africa have lost their lives to the disease and fears are increasing that the deadly illness could make its way to the UK.

An American has recently lost their life to Ebola and a Spanish nurse is battling against the disease prompting greater concern it could be coming to British shores.

But due to insufficient data on the virus and no known cure, health officials are unable to provide specific guidelines on how to treat the disease.

In an effort to try and educate Mancunians on the growing threat of Ebola, MM has put together what we know about the lethal virus.

Ebola is nothing new

For many Mancunians, 2014 marked the first year that many had even heard about Ebola and its effects but the virus has been with us for many years.

The first outbreak took place in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Subsequent outbreaks occurred in Uganda in 2000, and again in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007.

Prior to 2014, a total of 1,000 people have died as a result of the Ebola virus but that number this year is already four times that.

Ebola is no random name, it’s a river!

The Ebola virus obtained its name from the Ebola River which is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

E-B-O-L-A = 5

The World Health Organisation has confirmed that there are five different strains of Ebola and have described Ebola as ‘one of the world’s most virulent diseases.’

The strands are named after their place of origin. Three of the strands are referred to as Bundibugy.

There is also a strand that originated in the Ivory Coast and Reston,Virgina in the United States of America.

A long wait

Most viral infections such as the common cold or influenza have a small incubation period of between one-three days.

It is during the incubation period that a person becomes infected and can start experiencing symptoms.

The lengthy 21-day incubation period for Ebola means that there is a greater risk of spreading the disease as they may not be aware that they have become infected.

The disease is passed on through bodily fluids and at the moment is not yet airborne.

No cure

Currently, there is no cure for the Ebola Virus. 

Individuals who are infected are given fluids and encouraged to stay in well oxygenated places and at present the death rate is continuing to fall.

A firm in San Diego has developed ZMapp which has showed promise with monkeys.

However, until tested on humans, its efficacy cannot be determined.

Image courtesy of EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser, with thanks

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