Health experts from around the globe are currently meeting at the World Health Organization to discuss new measures to tackle the Ebola outbreak.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world's deadliest to date.
The meeting is expected to last two days and the officials will decide whether to declare a global health emergency to counter the Ebola hemorrhagic fever which would mean travel restrictions on the affected global regions.
The first case of the outbreak this year was reported on March 23 in Guinea, when the WHO and Guinean health ministry acknowledged deaths caused by the illness in the south-eastern areas of the country. The Ebola virus since then has caused almost 900 lives.
Two US aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia are said to be improving after receiving an unapproved medicine, the ZMapp drug, before being evacuated back to the US. However it is unclear if their improvement was due to the ZMapp drug which had previously only been tested on monkeys.
The WHO has described Ebola virus disease (EVD) aka Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) as “one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind.”
Here are some important facts about the deadly disease that you should know:
Any of the following viruses can cause EVD or EHF:
· Bundibugyo virus (BDBV),
· Ebola virus (EBOV),
· Sudan virus (SUDV), and
· Taï Forest virus (TAFV, formerly and more commonly Côte d'Ivoire Ebola virus (Ivory Coast Ebolavirus, CIEBOV))
The common characteristics of the disease include the following:
· The sudden onset of fever with intense weakness and sore throat
· Muscle pain and headache followed by vomiting, diarrhea or rash
· Impaired kidney and liver function
· Internal and external bleeding in some cases
· Low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes
WHO states the incubation period – the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms – is 2 to 21 days.
Humans can contract the virus through the blood, secretions or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
While the WHO establishes fruit bats as possible natural hosts for Ebola virus in Africa, pigs and other animals such as gorillas and dogs have also been considered as potential reservoirs.
Meat that comes from wild animals such as bats, antelopes, squirrels, porcupines and monkeys hunted down by people in Africa and Asia is known as bushmeat.
It’s one of the most traditional food items in West Africa.
Researchers have commonly linked the consumption of bushmeat to the transmission of various diseases including Ebola.
Unfortunately, this highly contagious disease can neither be cured nor vaccinated. Patients are mostly quarantined and their symptoms are controlled through oral or intravenous fluids that contain electrolytes.
Around 68 percent of all cases reported in the past have been fatal, killing more than 1,500 people since its first recorded transfer to humans in 1976.