In late 2014, the world was rocked by news of an Ebolavirus outbreak in West Africa which, to date, has resulted in over 21,000 cases and in excess of 8400 deaths. This resulted in further panic when an isolated case in the UK brought the disease too close to home for comfort. The fatality rate can be up to 90%, but if you take the right precautions to avoid and treat the virus you have a far greater chance of survival.
A lot of symptoms of the Ebola virus are similar to other illnesses such as vomiting, headaches, stomach pain, aches and weaknesses, fever and diarrhoea. Less common symptoms include bleeding both inside and outside of the body, eye redness, chest pain, difficulty swallowing or breathing and hiccups. The sooner you recognise the symptoms, the better your chances of survival are.
The virus is spread via bodily fluids and can survive whilst airborne for a short period of time. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms such as vomiting mean that it is hard to avoid sufferers’ symptoms, so wear protective gloves, clothing and a mask whenever you are around infected people or those who have been near infected people.
When you are on a plane journey, the air is recycled which means that bacteria and viruses are easily spread. Avoid plane journeys to and from countries that have experienced an outbreak if possible.
The Ebola virus is believed to have originated from fruit bats so avoid consuming wild bush meat as this could be infected with the virus from bites or fluids.
If you have contracted the virus, a lot of the symptoms will cause your body to lose vital fluids and dehydration will increase your risk of dying from it. As well as water, consume food and drinks with electrolytes such as bananas and coconut water to help your body rehydrate.
Whilst there is no confirmed way of curing or immunising against Ebola as of yet, scientists do believe that a strong immune system plays a big part in whether or not somebody will recover from the disease. Take steps to protect your immune system such as eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise.
As well as medical instruments, any items that have been on or near contaminated areas including sheets and clothing should be disinfected to avoid spreading infection further.
Washing your hands is a crucial step in preventing the spread of illnesses and infections. If you cannot get immediate access to soap and water, use antibacterial alcohol gel.
These animals are believed to carry the virus so avoid touching them.
As the virus is spread via bodily fluids, clean and cover any cuts or wounds, no matter how small, as soon as possible
If you do contract the virus, make sure you allow yourself adequate time to rest and recuperate. Ebola can have a relatively long incubation period before symptoms show, so make sure that you get a blood test as soon as possible if you think you may have come into contact with the virus and start looking after yourself, even before diagnosis.
The virus can stay active and contagious in a body up to two months after the sufferer has passed away. Avoid any burial or mourning rituals that involve direct contact with the body.
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