Monday, October 27, 2014

The Scare that is Ebola: FAQ's

Information from The New York City Department of Health.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease caused by a virus. A large outbreak is now occurring in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
It is spread by direct contact (through broken skin or your mouth, eyes or nose) with
- body fluids (such as blood, vomit, urine, feces and sweat) of a person sick with Ebola (People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms, such as fever.)
- objects soiled with the body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.
- the body of a person who died from Ebola.
Ebola is not spread through the air or simply by being near someone who is infected.
During outbreaks, the disease can spread within health care settings if workers do not wear protective gear and take proper precautions.
The current outbreak is taking place in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Four cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in the U.S. The first U.S. patient traveled from Liberia to Dallas and became sick after arriving in Dallas. The patient was diagnosed on September 30, 2014 and died on October 8, 2014. Two healthcare workers in Dallas became sick on October 10, 2014 and October 12, 2014 after caring for that patient. Both workers are receiving medical treatment and are being isolated.
On October 23, 2014, a healthcare worker who returned from Guinea to New York City tested positive for Ebola. He is isolated and in treatment at Bellevue Medical Center in Manhattan. Public health officials have quarantined three contacts of the patient. New York City is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers, and the chances of the average New Yorker getting Ebola are extremely low.
The disease usually starts with an abrupt fever, possibly with headache and joint and muscle aches. Other symptoms may include:
- nausea
- weakness
- diarrhea
- vomiting
- stomach pain
- lack of appetite
Some patients may also experience:
- rash
- red eyes
- hiccups
- cough
- sore throat
- chest pain
- problems breathing
- problems swallowing
- bleeding inside and outside the body
Symptoms usually appear eight to 10 days after exposure but may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure. People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms, such as fever. If a person does not develop symptoms within 21 days after exposure, he or she is not at risk for Ebola.
The severity of the disease varies, but over 50% of patients with Ebola have died during past outbreaks.
There is no approved medication for Ebola. Treatment focuses on supportive care and may require intensive care unit support. Experimental vaccines and treatments are in development but have not been fully tested for safety or effectiveness in people.
Measures to stop the disease from spreading include:
- quickly identifying people who might be infected with Ebola virus
- isolating Ebola patients from contact with uninfected people
- following infection control guidelines in health care facilities (i.e. sterilizing medical equipment and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment )
- monitoring the health of people who may have come into contact with an infected person