Ebola has taken the lives of over 3900 lives in West Africa. Over 8000 people are currently infected with Ebola. There is currently no confirmed cure for a disease that is known to kill 90% of its infected patients.
So, how did it all start? Ebola appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, although it didn’t start to get spread seriously until earlier this year. The name “Ebola” was taken from the name of the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Today, there are confirmed cases of Ebola in eight countries, and travel regulations are growing stricter internationally. This means that Ebola is an increasing concern for the world at large. For example, there is now screening at major American airports, where there are direct flights from West Africa and most Canadian airports, where there aren’t any direct flights. Temperature checks are done on those travelling from West African countries, as heavy perspiration is a huge symptom of Ebola.
Thomas Duncan was the first person to test positive for Ebola in the USA. He contracted the disease while in Liberia. When travelling back to Dallas, however, he passed the screening test and only started to show symptoms of the disease ten days later, on September 30. He died two days later. The dilemma then turned to how to avoid spreading the disease regarding post-mortem care, as it is more potent in a dead patient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a document on how to exercise proper hygiene when caring for dead Ebola patients. It included wrapping the body in a plastic shroud immediately and later in two vacuum sealed plastic bags. Duncan’s family and those who were in recent contact with him have been put in isolation in efforts to control the spreading of Ebola. However, two health-care workers who cared for Duncan have been diagnosed with Ebola.
On the other side of the border, a Winnipeg lab has just developed a Canadian test vaccine for Ebola. Eight hundred to one thousand vials of the test vaccine were transported to Geneva on October 9, and will be tested there to quantify the amount of vaccine needed to fully protect one person. It is definitely hoped that only a small amount is required, so that more people can be protected from the existing vials.
Across Canada, laboratories are getting ready to be able to test for Ebola, like many currently do in the USA. Although it is still low risk, there have been twenty suspected cases of Ebola in Canada, all of which have been negative. It is very important to be able to test for this, so that those infected can be treated and isolated promptly, to avoid spreading the disease. The goal is to have one laboratory equipped per province to test for Ebola.
Back in West Africa, the situation is growing worse by the day. Much of the population is affected by Ebola, and as a result, the economy has slowed quite a bit. Because of this, the grave diggers and post mortem care workers are not being paid for a job that has turned into a fight for life. Exposure to dead Ebola patients can be deadly. They have gone on strike, in protest for poor hygiene and pay. This means that the streets are now littered with dead bodies, many of which have the Ebola virus in them still, which is very dangerous for the rest of the area.
There is no cure yet. There are not enough beds in care centres. There is not nearly enough supplies. There is not enough education about Ebola. And people are dying. World leaders are in active debate as to how to control and prevent Ebola. We must continue to stay hopeful. We must continue to find medical cures. And we must continue to make sure help gets to where it is needed most.
– Fazeela M.