How is Ebola spread?
For the past few years, most people have lived in constant fear of the Ebola virus. Fear is a logical response especially when you consider how deadly this disease is. What’s more, Ebola is very contagious. But how is Ebola spread? You can get it just by shaking someone’s hand or being in their space when they sweat or sneeze.
Many scientists believe that Ebola, if left uncontained, has the capacity to kill off
every human being on the face of the earth. Yes, it’s that deadly. And that’s why you need to know all the accurate facts about Ebola. This article will address the question, how is Ebola spread?
What is the medically-accurate definition of Ebola?
The Ebola Virus Disease is a chronic disease that causes humans and primates to suffer from severe hemorrhagic fevers. The foremost outbreak of this deadly disease occurred in the Ebola River. This River flows through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
How is Ebola transmitted?
To understand and prevent this disease, it is important to know the modes of transmission. The Ebola virus can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, saliva, faeces and vomit. Healthy looking men can have the virus in their semen for about 70 – 90 days.
Scientists recently revealed that breastfeeding mothers can transmit the virus through breast milk. Medical experts aren’t sure about tears and sweat, though. Studies have been inconclusive so far.
It is also important to note the indirect modes of transmission. Some patients have contracted the disease through touching contaminated exteriors and items. However, infection through surfaces is rare. Again, transmission can be avoided if surfaces are constantly cleaned and disinfected.
How is Ebola spread?
Most people know how the disease is transmitted, but very few understand how and why it spreads so quickly.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Ebola virus disease isn’t an evil spirit. And it certainly isn’t airborne; you can’t get the disease by breathing it in.
Here are some ways through which the Ebola virus can be spread quickly:
1. Through sexual intercourse
During the 2014 outbreak of the Ebola virus, many got infected through unprotected sex. Sexual intercourse involves a lot of fluid exchange. Men who have recovered from the Ebola virus disease can harbor the virus in their semen for up to 90 days. This makes it easy for the virus to spread through oral, anal and vaginal sex.
2. Through saliva
According to scientists, the virus is spotted in only severely ill patients. In 2014, Liberian minister, Patrick Sawyer spread the virus to the medical team in Lagos when we spat at them. Some doctors and nurses reported that he also urinated on them. Most of those doctors and nurses died from the disease.
Some doctors consider coughing, sneezing and spitting to be rare modes of transmission. However, everyone must consider that the virus spreads quickly because fluids from infected persons can settle on mucous membranes or broken skin of uninfected persons.
3. Blood transfusion
Before the latest outbreaks of Ebola, medical scientists test blood for HIV, Hepatitis and other diseases, but they never tested the blood for the Ebola virus. Things are different now. Medical lab scientists now know that the virus can be spread through blood transfusion.
Transfusing Ebola-infected blood into another patient is a death sentence.
4. Contaminated tools and equipment
Sharing sharp objects such as razors, syringes and needles are dangerous. Not only can healthy people contract HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, but they can also contract the Ebola virus. When sharp objects are shared, body fluids from infected patients can infect uninfected persons.
5. Infected animals
Scientists have shown that fruit bats are one of the chief spreaders of the Ebola virus. Fruit bats deposit the virus into fruits so you must beware of half-eaten, unwashed fruits. These bats also transmit the virus to the apes and monkeys whose blood they feast.
This explains why the World Health Organization warned against the consumption of bush meats. Because bush meats are often half-cooked or partially-roasted, they often contain strains of the Ebola virus.
The consumption of bush animals has contributed to the spread of this deadly virus.
What happens when a person has Ebola?
Ebola virus disease manifests as early as three to seven days after infection. Here are some of the earliest symptoms:
• Increase in body temperature
• Thick blood in the urine
• Body pains
• Sore throat
• Severe fever
• Joint and muscle aches
After a few days, the symptoms get worse. Patients experience the following symptoms during the advanced stages of the disease:
• Stomach aches
• Internal and external bleeding
When a person is suspected to have EVD, they are quarantined, monitored and treated. This is to help to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
People who have been treated are at risk of infecting healthy people. According to medical experts, convalescents are tagged as contagious 21-90 days after all symptoms have disappeared.
Final thoughts on how is Ebola spread
Scientists envisage that the Ebola virus epidemic will surface from time to time. To reduce the spread of the virus, governmental and non-governmental organizations are working tirelessly to sensitize global populations. Experts recommend the avoidance of bush meats, unprotected sex and other risky behavior (such as sharing needles, razors and other sharp objects).
Vaccines have recently been released into the market. So far, they have only been restricted to health workers especially those who work in Ebola-prone areas. To prevent the spread of Ebola, we must do more than ask ‘How is Ebola spread’, rather we should adhere to the recommended preventive measures.