The Democratic Republic of Congo has been battling an outbreak of Ebola since August 1, 2018. This outbreak is the 10th recorded Ebola outbreak in the region and the second largest outbreak in history. Its death toll is surpassed by the 2014 Ebola outbreak which killed 10,000. To date, the current outbreak has claimed more than 400 lives and there are over 600 reported cases total.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is a rare and deadly virus that can infect humans and primates. It is deadly because it causes blood loss and organ failure.
How does it spread?
Ebola virus spreads to people through direct contact with bodily fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids) of a person who is sick with Ebola. The disease can be transmitted when a person comes in contact with infected fluids or contaminated objects.
What are the symptoms?
Ebola may present with symptoms such as:
Can it be prevented?
Transmission can be prevented by avoiding all contact with bodily fluids and contaminated objects while in an area affected by Ebola. There is no vaccine for the Ebola virus. If you travel to a region affected by Ebola, you should monitor for signs of Ebola and seek medical attention immediately if you develop any symptoms. Ebola can be diagnosed with a blood test, usually 3 days after the onset of symptoms.
Do we need to worry in the US?
While there have been no reported cases in the US, we should be mindful that international travel makes the world a much smaller place.