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The Spotlight on Ebola

  By posted Sep 3rd 2014
Buzz

 

Ebola

 

Ebola can be best described as one of the most deadly viruses to affect our species. It is highly contagious, with death rates up to 90 percent. Combating and treating this deadly infection has proved to be quite a challenge, as not many have survived the current epidemic that has struck African countries.

 

A current hypothesis suggests that fruit bats are reservoirs for this virus. These bats can harbour the virus without getting the disease. Once these contaminated fruit bats are eaten by wild animals, the virus spreads to them. It finally reaches the human species when a person comes in contact with a live or dead animal that has been infected. Consuming the meat of such an animal can also spread the disease.

 

Inter-human transmission is one of the main causes of this disease. Direct contact with the infected patient's blood, body fluids, semen, saliva etc. can spread the disease.

 

The symptoms are very non-specific. Common initial symptoms are moderate to high grade fever, body pain, headache and rashes. These symptoms don't always lead to the diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease.

 

The diagnosis of this disease is based on a person's travel history within the last month, to the countries where disease is ongoing (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria). Dr. Nitin Shinde Consultant, Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine, Wockhardt Hospitals, Nagpur says that in India, the standard diagnostic test is blood-PCR. This test is available at National Communicable Disease Control Centre (NCDC), New Delhi and National Virological Institute, Pune.

 

Currently the treatment options are mainly only supportive in nature. Healthcare professionals focus on providing adequate intravenous fluids to the infected patients. They then concentrate on avoiding and managing thr complications.

 

It is essential to know that there is no specific drug or vaccine available as of now for this disease.

 

There has been no confirmed case of Ebola in India till now. The messages being spread on social media are spam. Tulsi leaves will not help in keeping the virus at bay. Additionally, the fact about drinking warm water with salt will certainly not help in any way.

 

Air travel is the most important risk factor for spread of disease between the countries. So people coming to India from any of these Ebola infected countries should be scanned thoroughly. Apart from that, it is unlikely that this disease will reach India.

 

Dr Nitin also adds that currently there is no need to panic about this disease. However, considering the potential implications of spread of this infection, preparedness is the key to handle possible outbreak.

 

Image courtesy: Shutterstock

 

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