By Saimah Shareef
Assistant Photo Editor
Just the mention of Ebola has been causing fear and anxiety in individuals for decades. Now, an international scare has swept the globe with the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The 2014 Ebola outbreak has yielded more cases and deaths since its discovery in the 1970s. Countries in West Africa, such as Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have been greatly affected by the outbreak.
According to WebMd, Ebola, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body. As the virus progresses, it damages the immune system and organs. The blood cells that help clotting when someone is injured drop. This leads to uncontrollable bleeding, and ultimately death. WebMd lists the early symptoms as similar to flu symptoms, such as high fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, stomach pain; however, as the virus gets worse, bleeding inside and outside the body starts to occur. Like other autoimmune viruses, Ebola spreads by contact with skin or other bodily fluids of an infected person.
Although the CDC reports the outbreak does not pose a significant risk to the United States, earlier this year two American doctors had been diagnosed with the Ebola virus. According to a CNN news article dated September 11th, Dr. Rick Sacra and Dr. Kent Brantly were both infected with Ebola while working in Liberia with the aid organization Serving in Mission (SIM). They were both evacuated and sent back to the United States for care. The same article reported that Brantly flew to Nebraska, where Sacra is in isolation, to donate his blood after being fully treated for the virus. Brantly is reportedly testing negative for the virus and shares the same blood type as Sacra, which may be a life saving detail.
The CDC also reports that it is working with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization and other domestic and international partners in an international response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. However, a recent CNN story on September 12th reported that the virus “shows no signs of slowing”. According to Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 4,784 reported cases and over 2,000 deaths due to the outbreak. She also said that there is not one single bed available for an Ebola patient in the entire country of Liberia. CNN reports that the virus is increasing rapidly and “exponentially”. Although the number of supplies and money are important factors to be considered, the WHO is urging more healthcare workers to come assist in battling the virus.