Ebola 2014

Edward Tong, Staff Writer

“I think I have Ebola” is probably a common phrase now a days, said by most people who probably don’t even have Ebola but just overreact. Don’t worry if you are one those people, because I also thought I had Ebola when I got sick a week ago. What is Ebola? You have been hearing about this disease or peculiar word around campus or the internet, but what exactly is Ebola? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with a strain of Ebola Virus. This disease does not spread through air, water, food or mosquitoes, so you don’t have to avoid every sick person in the school and hide in a corner. This disease spreads through direct contact with blood and body fluids of a person already showing symptoms of Ebola. So unless you have been touching furniture contaminated by someone with Ebola or exchanged bodily fluids (blood, sperm, vaginal fluids etc.) then you are fine. Where did this disease originate from? This disease first appeared in 1976 with 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one outbreak in Nzara,Sudan and the other one in Yambaku, Democratic Republic of Congo. This disease occurred near the Ebola river which was where the name “Ebola” came from.

How did humans get this disease? Ebola was thought to be introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretion, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead in the rainforest. Fruit bats of the Pteropodiate family were thought to be natural virus. Now that we know what Ebola is and how you can get it, let’s look at the symptoms of Ebola. The first symptoms start to appear after the incubation period of 2–21 days. Humans are not infectious or contagious until they develop symptoms. The first symptoms are sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These symptoms are all then followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function. In some cases, there is both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings also include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

The next question to ask is: Who has Ebola? The first outbreak of Ebola was seen on September 30, 2014 when patient Thomas Eric Duncan (age 42), who visited the United States from the African country of Liberia, had been diagnosed with Ebola. His conditions deteriorated from “serious but stable” to “critical”. He died of Ebola on October 8. After his death, President Obama has stated that he is opposed to a travel ban or travel restriction of people with areas of Ebola (e.g. Liberia, Sudan etc.). Shortly after Duncan’s case of Ebola, another case appeared, this time infecting a nurse. The nurse Nina Pham was diagnosed on October 11, 2014 and became the second person in the U.S. to contract Ebola. She was also the nurse who treated Duncan, bravely risking her health to help this patient diagnosed with a rare and very dangerous disease. Shortly after her, there was another case on October 14, 2014, also a nurse. Nurse Amber Joy Vinson became the 3rd person diagnosed with this disease.  On October 23, physician Craig Spencer from New York had just returned from working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, a country in West Africa. Some nurses and doctors from who have worked in countries in Africa have not had such good luck reentering the U.S like Spencer.

On October 27, 2014 a nurse, Kaci Hickox, was placed under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey even though she tested negative for Ebola twice. She describes this situation as inhumane and that “to quarantine someone without a better plan in place, without more forethought, is just preposterous.” Even though she tested negative for Ebola, I personally feel that what they are doing is right, because she just came from Sierra Leone which was a country in Africa that has been affected. Her quarantine is completely understandable after Craig’s outbreak who came into the U.S after he treated patients in Africa. So Kaci being quarantined for 21 days until we know for sure that she does not have Ebola is the best decision for not only her, but for everyone else who lives in the United States. Her suffering will help end many others, so she should be applauded for taking this sacrifice for the safety of the public. Now that you are more educated about Ebola, be sure to spread the news of this to others so we together can raise awareness of Ebola and help prevent it.