WHO describes the current Ebola outbreak in Africa to be one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks they have ever faced. That is a chilling statement.
This significant outbreak, which began in January in West Africa, is expected to continue for another 2 to 3 months. It has now reached into four countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali and Liberia) and as of 9 April, there are a cumulative total of 158 clinically compatible cases, including 101 deaths. There have also been a few survivors – which is considered by many to be a miracle. These recovered patients have been dubbed the “Lazarus Patients.”
The strain of Ebola virus responsible for this outbreak has been identified as the Zaire species, which can carry a 90% fatality rate. Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash and impaired kidney and liver function, according to WHO. Internal and external bleeding also have been documented in some cases. The source of the outbreak affecting West Africa is not yet known.
There are three groups that are at highest risk for infection: health care workers, family contacts and those attending funerals who may have direct contact with deceased patients.
The disease incubates in people for up to 21 days, and outbreaks are generally not declared over until there have been no transmissions for at least two incubation periods.