Infectious and fatal: Understanding Ebola

It’s safe to say Ebola is on everyone’s mind these days, while the paranoia and anxiety levels of nearly all United States citizens continue to increase. But what exactly is Ebola, where does it come from and how does one contract this deadly disease?

The name Ebola is derived from a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, previously Zaire, near the location where the disease was first discovered. The disease itself, Ebola Fever, is an infectious and typically deadly disease that includes symptoms of fever and internal bleeding, and is spread through physical contact where bodily fluids are present. Scientists believe that the disease originated within bats, and humans are catching it when coming into contact with bat drool or feces on any food, surface or object. The contagious level of the disease is extreme, and specialists from the Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta found that the virus exists on the skin of patients once symptoms have advanced, making it nearly impossible to not contract the virus when in contact with a contagious person. So far, there are no sound drugs or procedures that treat Ebola, but the United States government claims that they are fast-tracking the advancement of a treatment that they hope will work on humans.

General precautions are being given to all citizens, taking in to regard family members or friends who have recently traveled outside of the United States, mainly near Africa, and more specifically to the countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. In those countries alone, there have been 8,900 cases and 4,400 recorded deaths as of October 22, 2014, according the New York Times.

“I know Ebola has become a major concern of many Americans, but I think until further information is released, all we can do as a student body, and country for that matter, is be aware of our bodies, any symptoms we may feel coming on, and being extremely careful with any physical contact where bodily fluid is present. Besides that, there doesn’t seem to be much else our community can do but wait until the government and medical fields give us more information about the disease,” Marcy Lohese ’18 said.

Obviously, Ebola is an epidemic that is spreading quickly around the world. However, more than the actual illness, worry is spreading as well. In September, the American government prepared to increase the number of military troops and medical personnel in Africa. However, the construction of treatment centers has been delayed because of the obstacles in shipping heavy materials to the countries. Many east coast airports that are main ports between countries have gone to lengths of taking the temperatures of incoming travelers in attempt to deter the spread of Ebola.

As of October 22, 2014, only five Americans contracted the disease because they were in an Ebola-ridden counry, but cleanliness, along with being aware of bodily needs and symptoms, can hinder the infectious outbreak. Keep updated with new findings related to the Ebola epidemic, and keep to a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to stay as hygienic as possible.

Mary can be reached at

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