New Ebola Outbreak: What You Need to Know and How to Stay Safe

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The Ebola hemorrhagic fever has resurfaced again in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past six to eight weeks, news of the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the DR of Congo has dominated the international community.

As expected, aggressive measures are being employed to contain the virus and prevent its spread to other parts of West Africa and the world at large. The wisdom in this comes from the lessons of previous outbreaks of the scourge.

Needless to say, they are good reasons to put in the efforts required to attack the issue with all the seriousness it deserves. Before we examine the results of these efforts in detail, let’s look at what Ebola really means.

What is Ebola and How is it Spread?

Ebola is a virus named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was first discovered in 1976 when the country was still known as Zaire.

The virus, which is spread through contact with body fluids of infected persons, is characterized by fever and severe internal bleeding, organ failure and death. Apart from humans, it can also be spread by animals and insects. The virus is from the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus.

Most Deadly Ebola Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak of 2014 was the deadliest occurrence of the disease since it was discovered in 1976.

The latest outbreak in the DR of Congo comes after the 2014 outbreak which killed over 11,000 people and spread to the U.S. and six other countries. These include the U.K., Italy, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia. About 28,637 cases were reported which were spread across these countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) put the death toll for the 2014 outbreak per country as follows:

  • Liberia:  4809
  • Sierra Leone: 3,955
  • Guinea: 2,536
  • Nigeria: 8
  • Mali: 6

Latest Outbreak of Ebola

According to reports, the latest Ebola 2018 outbreak has caused about 25 deaths. Over 45 people have been infected as efforts continue to bring the disease under control.

Most of the cases were confirmed in the north-western city of Mbandaka. This is a city of about 1 million people. Its link to the capital of the DRC, Kinshasa has led to fears of further spread.

Previous cases like that of 2014 also make it important for safety measures to be taken by both the authorities and individuals. For example, over 7,000 Nigerians live in the DRC. Many of these have built families there and inter-married. The possibility of these people coming in contact with those affected is always there.

These people travel all the time to and fro. While the authorities put in place the necessary measures to forestall the spread of the virus, it is important for individuals to also take necessary steps to stay safe.

This is the ninth outbreak since it was first discovered in 1976. What this means is that there is always the possibility of an outbreak elsewhere, especially in places where it has occurred before.

Preventive Measures

  • Practice good hygiene

This is an effective means of preventing the spread of germs. The Ebola virus can also be prevented by practising good hygiene.

  • Stay away from areas affected by the virus

This is only natural.  But if this is unavoidable for economic or other reasons, then avoid contact with blood and other body fluids such as semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, urine, sweat and vomit from persons in affected areas.

  • Stay away from items that may have come in contact with infected persons.
  • If you travelled to an area affected by the virus, carefully observe your health for up to three weeks and seek medical attention immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms.

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