Editorial

Since 1976 when the Ebola virus was first identified, the disease has become one of the most deadly the world has seen. It is possible for a person to come down with Ebola symptoms in the morning and be dead by nighttime!

The Center for Disease Control in the United States has declared a state of highest alert, following reports that 1552 persons have died from Ebola, mostly in the African states of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Ebola kills one out of every two persons it infects. In severe cases it can kill two out of every three persons infected with the virus. Health experts say that Ebola is not transmitted without physical contact between persons or between people and animals, but the virus is so virulent that even the slightest contact with an infected person can bring on the disease. Body fluids including blood and semen will cause a victim to be infected.

The bad thing about Ebola is that doctors don’t have a cure. Treatment consists of oral and intravenous hydration, isolation and plenty of bed rest. Ebola attacks the liver and the kidneys. It causes internal bleeding as well as exterior bleeding, and while laboratories are working on a vaccine which will resist the virus, there is no known cure for this disease.

Belize is far removed from any of the countries with concentrations of Ebola, and even though it is unlikely that this dreaded virus would come to Belize, given the extreme precautions that airlines and health authoritieshave been taking, even the remotest possibility needs to be considered. Infection through parasites, mosquitoes or other biting insects cannot be ruled out.
Ebola patients have to be quaranteed and specially trained health workers need to be covered with masks and protective clothing when caring for these patients.

The symptoms of Ebola are roughly similar to the symptoms of other diseases including malaria, typhoid and dengue. Early symptoms are muscle pain, sore throat and fever. Vomiting and diarrhea follow close behind, making the patient extremely weak. Doctors arrive at a diagnosis by eliminating other possible infections one by one.

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