Judging from my newsfeeds, people aren’t so concerned about the Ebola Outbreak currently happening in West Africa.
However, I think we should be concerned and track the progress of this outbreak.
In this era of globalization, we should be concerned about a virus that has claimed more than 670 lives and infected 1,200 even if it is happening in a different continent. With flights, it is now very easy to transport people to and from different countries and unfortunately, the same goes for viruses.
Outbreaks of this virus isn’t new but for the past years the outbreaks have been confined to small villages or confined to 1 or 2 small cities so a quarantine stops the outbreak from progressing.
Similarly, in the past, there have been no cases of Ebola spreading through flights because victims are usually too sick to fly. However, a recent case has changed that when a Liberian government consultant had travelled from Liberia, went to Togo and arrived in the capital of Nigeria, Lagos, where he died from Ebola. Lagos is not a small village. Lagos is a bustling city with many international flights and is the most populous city in Africa. That ups the risk of the Ebola outbreak affecting more people. It could have been worse, he was on a connecting flight headed for the US but he collapsed when the plane landed in Lagos.
Health Personnel have openly said that the Ebola Outbreak is now a crisis and is out of control. Humanitarian groups are already evacuating their staff to protect themselves from the outbreak. The US is pulling out two doctors who have gotten infected with Ebola to be treated at home so for the first time, the US will be housing Ebola patients.
Ebola is one of the scariest viruses I have ever heard of. However, the best thing to do is for us to arm ourselves with knowledge. Knowledge, after all, is the best way we can protect ourselves.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a highly infectious viral disease with fatality rate up to 90%.
Symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as sudden fever, headache, joint pain, stomach pain and weakness. The victims’ symptoms progresses to more serious problems like difficulty breathing, hemorrhaging and multi-organ failure. (Click here for a complete list of symptoms.)
Incubation period (the time interval from infection to onset of symptoms) is 2 to 21 days. Victims of Ebola are NOT infectious until symptoms have started to present.
How is it spread?
Ebola is spread through human to human transmissions through the bodily fluids like blood, saliva or sweat. Health care workers or family members with direct contact to the patient are therefore at high risk of contracting the disease.
Note that the virus is NOT airborne so the virus is not as easily communicable as SARS.
What is the cure?
There is no known cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) the best way to stop the virus from spreading is to increase awareness, practicing good hygiene, and quarantine measures when one is suspected with Ebola.
How do we protect ourselves?
There are no direct flights from African countries to the Philippines which gives us a thin layer of protection. However, with the recent Ebola scare in HongKong and the UK, the possibility of this deadly virus reaching our shores is there.
The best way to protect ourselves for now is to avoid unnecessary travel.
Wash our hands constantly. If soap and water is not available, use alcohol based hand cleanser.
Avoid contact with people exhibiting symptoms of Ebola.
Avoid direct contact with body fluids like: saliva, sweat, urine, stool.
Therefore we must be extra vigilant when using public bathrooms. Use alcohol cleanser before using the toilets.
We should not share cups or straws with other people.
Our government should follow the lead of HK, Australia and other countries who have imposed strict measures to protect from the virus by quarantining travellers from Africa that exhibit any of the symptoms of Ebola. We implemented the same procedures during the SARS scare of 2003 which killed 299 and infected 1,800 people. The Philippines can implement the same measures now.
Hoping that the Ebola outbreak will be contained and die out soon.
In the meantime, stay safe everyone and stay healthy.