A Closer Look at Ebola

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Saturday, August 16, 2014


EBOLA has become an international emergency health concern and problem.

On August 8, Ms. Margarita Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, announced matter-of-factly, that the Ebola outbreak has crossed borders not only of countries in the subSaharan African continent, and warned that the virus might be knocking at our doors in no time , if the disease is not contained aggressively and efficiently.

There is some relief though that the two Americans, one of them is Dr. Kent Bratley, are improving at their confined isolated special units at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia USA. This positive development however was doused immediately by the disturbing news that as of yesterday, an infected Spanish priest was flown to a military airbase in Torrejon Spain, making him the first European patient with Ebola virus.

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Before proceeding, allow the author to clarify some matters regarding diseases. Infectious disease are ailments caused by a pathogen, that is an organism that can cause disease- microbes like viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, helminths or worms. Communicable diseases are those illnesses transmitted human to human or thru zoonosis- disease transmitted to humans thru contact with animals or thru secretions of waste products of animals- a notable example is leptospirosis, the causative agent is found in the urine of rats . Contagious disease are communicable diseases which are EASILY transmitted , a good example would be TB in which an patient with active tuberculosis can give anyone within one arms length distance the TB bacilli thru coughing or merely sneezing.

In the case of Ebola, infected humans serve as reservoir, that is humans harbor or keep the virus inside their body, and release the virus to the outside world and may infect others thru their secretions- blood, urine, semen, tracheobronchial mucus , and obviously, thru a needle prick. A disturbing news lately is the observation, that the Ebola virus has been isolated from the SWEAT of patients.

Incubation period is the interval between the time of exposure to a disease agent to the appearance of first sign and symptom, which is 10-15 days for the Ebola. There is a sudden onset of fever not lower than 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with generalized malaise and myalgia or muscle pain, headache fronto-temporal (forehead and at the temples, and a sore throat. A few days after, cervical lymphadenopathy (kulani) at the neck with the appearance of a non-itchy maculo-papular rash _ flat and raised reddish discolorations) at the face and neck area which later spreads to the body and the extemities-arms and legs. The patient may have epistaxis or nosebleed or gum bleeding. After a week, diarrhea sets in, almost intractable in the sense that, the diarrhea is not contained by conventional medicines, and worse, the loose bowel ovement is now blood stained. It must be emphasized that Ebola virus, like the dengue virus, is a major cause of hemorrhage. Massive interanl bleeding plus unstoppable vomiting -- the risk of contagion is now at its highest -- contribute to the very high mortality (90 percent) of Ebola.

Ribavirin, one of the most potent antiviral medicine has not been effective against Ebola, so for the moment, treatment has been largely symptomatic and supportive. Thus, containment of the outbreak rests on public awareness and knowledge of the disease, strict and consistent hygienic measures; we cannot overemphasize hand washing. For health workers, protective barriers and appropriate handling and disposal of waste materials.

And, lest you forget, build a strong immune system, by having a healthy lifestyle, restful sleep and balanced diet. And always keep a lil prayr in our pocket!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 16, 2014.

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