After reports spread across mainstream and social media about a suspected case of Ebola in Rift Valley where a woman was on Sunday admitted in Kericho Hospital, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Health Sicily Kariuki has reassured Kenyans that no case of Ebola has been confirmed in the country urging the public to be careful and vigilant.
Ebola has been in the headlines for decades and Kenya is always on the lookout due to the nation’s proximity to Congo, which has been one of the most affected countries year in and out.
What is Ebola?
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola Virus Disease is a viral infection proven fatal in human beings. It is believed to originate from bats mainly and was first identified in 1976 with two outbreaks; one in the present day Nzara, South Sudan and the other in Yambuku, DRC in a village near Ebola River, no wonder the name Ebola Virus.
What hosts or carries the Ebola Virus?
WHO believes that fruit bats are the natural hosts of the virus. How does the disease get into the human body? It is through close contact with blood, secretions, other bodily fluids, or organs of infected fruit bats, gorillas, monkeys, chimpanzees, porcupines, or forest antelopes or those that died due to the virus.
Once an individual catches the diseases, one can transmit it to another person through body fluids such as feces, vomit or blood; contaminated objects, and even sexual contact.
How long does it take to develop symptoms? WHO says 2-21days is the incubation period of the virus, that is, the time between infection with the virus and the onset of the symptoms. One can only spread the disease after developing symptoms not before.
The early signs of Ebola contraction include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, and headache. Malaria, typhoid fever, and meningitis have similar symptoms that is why proper diagnosis is crucial. They later advance to a rash, diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases internal and external bleeding.
So far, Ebola has no cure. What specialists do is manage the condition through supportive care such as re-hydration and treating specific symptoms to boost survival. However, experts are already working on possible treatments including vaccines, drugs, and immune therapies.
To prevent and control transmission of the virus, avoid direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. As for healthcare providers, they have to wear proper gear, handle dead bodies and lab equipment carefully, and dispose them as per the regulations.