How worried should we be about Ebola?
This summer we’ve been saddened and scared by news of spreading Ebola in Africa
and the 2 workers returned to the US. Just how afraid should we be? What do we
know and don’t know about this potentially fatal and debilitating disease?
From what we know, the Ebolavirus, known in the medical world as viral
hemorrhagic disease or fever, is one that occurs primarily in West Africa. The
nations that have been most affected are Sierra Lione, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria.
As of this month (August 2014), there have been no cases beginning in other
countries. There were 2 American workers that were infected in Africa brought back
to US in Atlanta for treatment, and fortunately, they have fully recovered and are
now healthy and out of the hospital. Their blood no longer showed signs of infection.
The most common symptoms of this disease are:
-unexplained bleeding or bruising
-loss of appetite
Here are 2 recent questions to me on my “Dr. Swiner’s Medical Notes” facebook page
L.W.A from Atlanta–“We really don’t hear about the disease much in the US
until there is a crisis as of late. In addition, talk about how the disease is really
transmitted. If via bodily fluids, can our normal human “waste” carry the disease?
When the patients were treated at Emory hospital (I live in Atlanta) I would like
to know how their human waste was treated and if there is reason for concern.
Thanks for your question, L.W.A. Here’s my answer:
The virus is transmitted through contact with an actively infected individual, via
fluid (ie. blood, urine, feces, vomit) exposure to one’s body (ie. open skin, eyes,
mouth, etc.). So, yes, human “waste” carries the disease. It generally takes 8-10 days
after an exposure to come down with the infection. That’s a good question about
how the hospital disposed of the waste. I did some reading from a paper called, “The
Liberty Voice”, the waste is being eliminated through Atlanta’s public sewer system
after testing is negative. Hopefully, no problems arise from this.
Next question is from P.G. in Durham: “My questions about Ebola are, “Where did it
originate? Why does it seem to be isolated to that one particular area of Africa? Has
the U. S. shared the meds we have with the Liberian people? WHY/HOW do WE have
an antidote for Ebola, but the disease is so far removed from our country?” I could
ask more questions, but I won’t.”
Here’s my answer: All good questions. As noted above, it seems to have originated
in West Africa, and they’re trying to contain it by preventing those travelling into
and out of the continent. At this time, there is no treatment or antidote. A patient
either develops immunity and can fight it off, …..or not. It is not known why some
patients die from this disease versus making full recovery. Some are able to develop
immunity to it in time, and others are not able, unfortunately.
A person who has been exposed, but does not have active symptoms, is not
contagious to other people. Additionally, once a patient is treated and is fully
recovered, there has been no evidence that they can transmit the virus to others.
Be healthy and be blessed,