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Health professor speaks about deadly Ebola virus

November 14, 2014

Ebola is a virus that is very prevalent in West Africa right now, and the virus has made its way to the U.S. and that has caused quite a stir amongst some people and news media outlets, but is there really anything to be afraid of?

According to the Wisconsin Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the natural reservoir host of the Ebola virus remains unknown but the disease is transmitted through bodily fluids of both human and nonhumans, such as primates.

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.

Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is eight to 10 days. The symptoms of the virus include: fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bruising or bleeding.

The likelihood that someone could easily catch Ebola in the U.S. is pretty slim because of the precautions that the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) take. The United States is in much better shape than Africa as far as the spread of Ebola.

UW-River Falls health education Coordinator Stacy Furness teaches a class that has been focusing a lot on the recent Ebola outbreak. The class ideally concentrates on communicable diseases.

She said that the information the public is getting is very good but fear may be the biggest issue as far as the U.S. and the virus.

“We often think that we have conquered communicable diseases in the world, but there are places in the world that don’t have the same access to health care and immunizations that we do in the United States,” Furness said. “It was really no surprise to me that Ebola made it to the United States.”

Furness said that what she has learned from the CDC website and the lengths that the organization is going to contain and quarantine the situation makes her feel safer.

“I am not afraid of catching Ebola but I am not making any plans to travel to West Africa anytime soon,” said Ashley David, a second-year UWRF graduate student.

The CDC has a large list of things that they are doing to help contain and control the virus. A few of these things are: monitoring nonessential travel to West Africa and surrounding areas and also working with airlines, airports, sending health professionals to the affected areas, and ministries of health to provide technical assistance for developing exit screening and travel restrictions in the affected areas. For the full list visit www.CDC. gov and search for Ebola.

In Furness’s class they discuss why the virus spread and how it was possible that so many people have contracted and died of Ebola in West Africa.

“Because they have lack of access to health care, because they are used to treating each other and family members when they become sick; that’s one of the reasons that it was able to spread so quickly,” Furness said.

Ebola is the type of disease that requires a certain standard of health care and knowledge. People cannot be exposed to body fluids of an individual with the virus especially when they are near death.

A virus like this is dangerous and deadly but with the resources available in the U.S. people should be focusing on learning the facts instead of taking obnoxious precautions. For more information on the virus and what the CDC is doing to help visit www.CDC.gov.