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Ebola facts and information

The Ebola outbreak is concentrated in a specific part of West Africa, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There have also been three reported cases in the United States and one in Spain. This international reach makes it increasingly evident that Ebola is not an ‘African’ problem nor should it be labelled a ‘West African’ problem. Ebola is a global issue that should be treated accordingly. In order to minimise loss and contain the spread of the virus, it is crucial that the international community act with solidarity in the battle against the virus. To quote Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her Letter to the World, we cannot simply ‘pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away. This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.’

We would like to express our deepest sympathises to those who have lost their loved ones as a result of the Ebola crisis.

What should you know about Ebola?

* Ebola is not an airborne virus like flu. Nor is it a food-borne or water-borne illness. Ebola is thus transmitted from one person to another through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. Some viruses – such as flu – are easily transmitted, Ebola is not one of these viruses. You cannot get Ebola from a person who is infected but not yet symptomatic. In order for an individual to be infected with the virus they must have contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person who is infected and is experiencing symptoms.

* Experts agree that the cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo are a different strain of the virus and are unrelated to the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Prime Minister of the DRC has issued a statement confirming that the outbreak, unrelated to the epidemic in West Africa, is “almost over” with no new cases detected for several days. In a show of solidarity to its fellow Africans, the DRC is in the process of training over 1000 volunteers to assist Ebola-affected countries in West Africa even though it is still fighting the last traces of the virus on its own soil.

* One imported case from Liberia and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States. CDC and the WHO along with other partners are working together to prevent further spread of the virus in the United States. The CDC and WHO have also dispatched supplies and medical personnel to Ebola-affected West African countries to help fight the outbreak.

* Spain reported one case of Ebola, a nurse by the name of Teresa Romero. Spain has since informed the public that preliminary results indicate that Teresa Romero’s immune system has eliminated the virus from her body as she has tested negative for any traces of Ebola.

* Ebola is not an airborne virus like flu. Nor is it a food-borne or water-borne illness. Ebola is thus transmitted from one person to another through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. Some viruses – such as flu – are easily transmitted, Ebola is not one of these viruses. You cannot get Ebola from a person who is infected but not yet symptomatic. In order for an individual to be infected with the virus they must have contact with blood or bodily fluids of a person who is infected and is experiencing symptoms.

africaAfrica is a vast continent and to understand the whereabouts of the virus and how it relates to the rest of Africa, one must first grasp the vastness of the continent. To put it into context, Africa is so large that the following countries can concurrently fit into it: India, Mexico, Peru, France, Spain, Papua New Guinea, Sweden, Japan, Germany, Norway, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Nepal, Bangladesh and Greece.

Only 6 of Africa’s 53 countries have reported cases of Ebola to date. Nigeria and Senegal are two such countries but the World Health Organisation has confirmed that both Nigeria and Senegal have stabilised and controlled the threat. It is widely accepted that the Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a different strain of the virus which is unrelated to the outbreak prevalent in the other affected countries. Regardless of this distinction, the Democratic Republic of Congo is included in the below map which highlights countries that have been affected by Ebola verses those that have not. That leaves three countries in a concentrated area of Africa that are tackling the Ebola outbreak, namely Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. As alluded to earlier, irresponsible reporting has led to the outbreak being labelled an ‘African’ issue. Presenting the outbreak in this way is potentially disastrous for the African continent as a whole.

Ebola

Cases of Ebola

Map courtesy of Tourism Update