Ebola remains health epidemic internationally

The Ebola virus disease, EVD, is a severe, most often fatal infection if left untreated that has caused a stir in the media and health care world. According to the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 1 more than 7,000 cases of Ebola have appeared resulting in over 3,330 deaths.

EVD was first seen in 1976 in two coinciding outbreaks. One occurred in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter happened just off the Ebola River in a nearby village, from which the virus name was given.

The most recent outbreak began in March 2014 and has been the largest and most complicated EVD outbreak since the original discovery in 1976. In this outbreak alone, there have been more deaths and cases than all others combined.

The virus spread between the West African countries Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia by one land traveler to Senegal and one traveler by air to Nigeria. These highly infected countries have very weak health systems that lack resources.

EVD was officially declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Aug. 8, by WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of now the virus can only be spread through direct contact with a person infected through bodily fluids, such as blood and vomit. However, some of the nation’s top infectious disease expert’s worry that EVD could mutate and be transmitted by a simple cough or sneeze.

Symptoms could appear within 2-21 days after exposure to EVD, but on average it is 8-10 days, according to WHO. The recovery of EVD depends on good supportive clinical care and the patients’ immune response. According to WHO, people who recover from EVD develop antibodies that could last up to 10 years.

The most recent cause for concern in the United States appeared when Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with EVD after arriving in Dallas from Liberia in September. One of the major concerns the U.S government is raising is the possibility of the worst EVD epidemic on record spreading from West Africa to the U.S.

Not only has this been a health concern for the country as a whole, college campuses have been making efforts to try and answer any questions the students have about the virus along with taking appropriate steps in ensuring the students safety.

A university in Kent, Ohio has had to take safety precautions for its students after Ducan’s nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, visited her mother and two other relatives in Kent. Vinson’s mother and relatives are staff members at Kent State University.

Vinson was cleared to fly to Kent by the CDC after she showed no signs of having EVD. On Tuesday, the day after she flew back to Dallas, Vinson discovered she had EVD. The CDC now says she should have not been flying on a commercial flight, since she had elevated temperatures.

Kent President Beverley J. Warren had to tell Vinson’s relatives to remain off the school’s campus and monitor themselves for 21 days for any signs of the illness.

The Department of Homeland Security will be making it mandatory as of Wednesday for any traveler from the three Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) to stop at one of the five designated airports for additional screening. These airports are: New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago.

 

BECKY HILKER

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