Entries in Ebola (3)


Ebola Death Toll Climbs in Congo

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The death toll from the Ebola virus has doubled within a week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the outbreak may continue spreading, the World Health Organization cautioned on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed 18 deaths among 41 cases of the highly contagious virus.

“Up to 90 percent of those who are infected may die,” said Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. “That’s why every outbreak is serious.”

Outbreaks tend to be localized because victims of the virus are generally too ill to travel, so the risk of exposure in the United States is extremely unlikely, Jasarevic said.

Reaching epidemic levels in northeastern Congo, the Ebola virus has stricken people in the towns of Isiro and Viadana in Orientale province, which borders southern Sudan and northern Uganda.

Its incubation – the time between infection and appearance of symptoms – lasts between two and 21 days. Death can occur within a few days.

“The incubation period can be long,” Jasarevic said. “But once you start showing symptoms, it goes very fast.”

Onset of illness may manifest in the form of fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat and weakness. Other early symptoms, such as red eyes and a skin rash, are nonspecific to the virus and can be present in diseases that occur much more commonly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illness progresses quickly to diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, impairment of kidney and liver function, and internal and external bleeding, which is why it is also called “hemorrhagic fever.”

Ebola outbreaks have been documented since 1976. In addition to the Congo, they have struck in Uganda this year. In other years, outbreaks have occurred in Sudan, Gabon and the Ivory Coast.

In collaborating with the World Health Organization, the CDC has developed practical, hospital-based guidelines for infection control in the African health care setting.

The manual recommends using common and low-cost supplies, such as household bleach, water, cotton cloth and plastic sheeting to curb infection. It is available in English, French and Portuguese.

Anyone – from the very young to the very old – can be infected with Ebola.

The virus is first transmitted from animals to humans, typically by hunters who kill primates in the jungle and then consume infected meat, Jasarevic said. Carriers of the virus can infect others through bodily fluids, including saliva, sweat, nasal drip and blood.

There is no standard treatment and no vaccine. Patients receive supportive therapy to balance their fluids and electrolytes, control blood pressure and oxygen levels, and manage any infections that may occur, according to the CDC.

Researchers do not know why a small percentage of people recover from Ebola while others do not. Those who die usually have not developed a significant immune response to the virus.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Officials Race to Quell Ugandan Ebola Outbreak

iStockphoto/ThinkstockBy Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor

(KAMPALA, Uganda) -- At the Ebola task force meeting at the Ministry of Health this morning, no one was shaking hands. Everyone greeted each other by bumping elbows out of fear of the Ebola outbreak that so far has claimed 16 lives.  And while the disease is most likely spread by contact with blood, the country’s president has called for a ban on handshakes and kissing.

Ebola is a viral infection that can present with fever, body aches, rash and can sometimes progress to bleeding. In previous outbreaks death rates have ranged from around 50-90 percent. There is no treatment except supportive care.

Patients with Ebola are isolated to prevent spread, and health care workers must wear extensive protective equipment just to provide basic care. The outbreak is occurring in the western part of the country, though one case has been diagnosed more than 200 miles away in the capital city, Kampala, in someone who traveled from the affected area. Currently 30 patients are in isolation being tested for Ebola.

The race is on to find all people who had contact with these Ebola patients. According the Ministry of Health, health workers are currently tracking more than 232 contacts. Each contact is visited daily to look for any signs of disease.  Those with symptoms have blood samples collected and raced to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team and Ugandan government lab near the capital, Kampala for testing.  It is the only lab in the region capable of doing this testing.

I’m embedded with the CDC team that is helping the ministry take on this outbreak. They are on the ground going village to village searching for contacts, analyzing data looking for connections between patients and working in the lab testing samples.  At this point, its too soon to say whether the outbreak is rising, falling, or leveling off. Until they figure that out, there is little time to rest.

While visitors to Uganda are not at risk, there are many reports of tourism falling off as a result of fears of contracting Ebola — more proof that when it comes to Ebola, it is all about fear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ebola Outbreak Kills 14 in Uganda

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KAMPALA, Uganda) -- The deadly Ebola virus killed 14 people this past week in Uganda reports The New York Times.

Emergency response measures have been taken by sending professionals from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to help identify those infected and contain the outbreak.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio