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How the Ebola virus spreads in humans

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : August 22, 2014 12:16 PM IST

Ebola spreading

The recent Ebola outbreak has been considered as an international emergency by the WHO due to the havoc it has created worldwide. The virus has claimed many innocent lives and is posing to be the toughest challenge in the world of medicine and science till date, with no proven cure in place or a vaccination to prevent the outspread of the epidemic. However, recent studies have shown some success in treating the virus with experimental drugs. While no one yet knows the exact way how this notorious virus got into the human body, thereby attacking the immune system and claiming lives, here are ways in which it can spread across the human race.

It spreads through infected body fluids: Ebola spreads from one infected person to the other through direct contact of the skin and other bodily fluids. The virus is present in the body fluids of an infected person which includes blood, semen, sweat, urine, saliva, feaces, vomit, etc. If a healthy person comes in contact with the infected body fluids that enters his system through open wounds, blood transfusions or through the eyes, ears, mouth, nostrils, genital area, it can infect an individual within a span of two to 21 days depending on the severity of the viral attack. Having unsafe sex with an infected person also can lead to the viral infection. (Read: Has the Ebola virus really come to India?)

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It can spread through direct skin to skin contact: One major reason why healthcare workers and immediate family members of infected Ebola victims were falling prey to the same in the infected areas is due to direct skin to skin contact with the patients. This is because the virus can be easily transmitted through an exchange of bodily fluids like sweat, saliva, etc. However, remember the virus would not spread only through casual contact. There has to be a medium for the transmission to take place and in case of a skin-to-skin contact it is either sweat, saliva, blood or other body fluids. It is advisable to take proper precautions if you need to be around a victim at any given point of time. Using protective equipment like gloves, masks and protective units is recommended to prevent the virus from spreading to a healthy individual. (Read: 5 reasons the ebola virus should never come to India)

It can spread by using infected needles and other contaminated objects: This is obvious as infected needles and other contaminated objects might have remnants of infected body fluids. If this gets into the system of a healthy individual, it can spread the deadly disease rapidly. (Read: Ebola virus signs and symptoms you need to watch out for!)

It can spread through infected animals: Medical experts and researchers believe that Ebola was first transferred into humans through animals. However it has not yet been ascertained which animal could have led to the spread of the epidemic in humans. To avoid further contamination through animals it is advised to avoid eating uncooked meat, as one might run the risk of getting infected with the virus from an infected animal.

Take this 60-second Ebola quiz and save your life!

Image source: Getty Images

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