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Ebola facts -- frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Published : August 28, 2014 7:10 PM IST

Ebola FAQsThe Ebola virus outbreak has threatened West Africa with the death toll increasing at an alarming rate every day. The lack of proper awareness about the Ebola infection adds to the deadly potential of the virus, increasing the risk of being infected with Ebola. Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) with answers about the deadly Ebola disease -

  1. How is the Ebola virus disease caused?

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a contagious disease caused by infection with one of the four strains of the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus belongs to the family of Filoviridae and the viral strains with potential for infection in humans areZaire, Bundibugyo, Tai Forest and Sudan virus. (Read: Ebola virus causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention)

  1. How does it spread?

The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with the body fluids (semen, sweat, saliva and blood), infected objects (needles) and close skin contact with an infected person. It can also be transmitted through close contact with infected animals (handling the meat) and consumption of uncooked meat. (Read:10 reasons that make the Ebola virus deadly for humans)

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  1. What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Ebola virus usually appear between 2 to 21 days after being infected with the virus. The early symptoms include high fever (greater than 38.6 C), headache, drop in blood pressure and stomach pain. Whereas late signs of Ebola infections which indicate medical emergency are sore throat, jaundice, skin rashes, bleeding and loss of appetite. (Read: 9 warning symptoms of Ebola that you should know)

  1. Who is at highest risk of getting the disease?

Any individuals who are in close contact with the person infected with the Ebola virus are at high risk of getting the disease. Healthcare providers (doctors, nurses and ward boys) who are taking care of the patients as well as family members and friends who are in close contact with the infected person are at higher risk of acquiring the infection.

  1. Has the disease come to India?

Although few suspected cases have been found in India, none of them were found positive for the Ebola virus. (Read:5 reasons the ebola virus should never come to India)

  1. If someone survives Ebola, can he or she still spread the virus?

A person surviving the Ebola infection can still spread the virus as it has been found that the transmission of the Ebola virus through semen is possible for a period of 7 weeks after recovery. (Read:What is the Ebola incubation period?)

  1. Can it be cured?

There is no known cure for Ebola virus as the FDA (Food and Drug Administation) has not approved a single drug for treatment of the infection. Although clinical trials for Ebola drugs and vaccine are being carried out in most parts of the world. As of now, only ZMapp (an experimental drug) is being approved by the FDA for experimental use in the Ebola affected areas. (Read: ZMapp - Experimental drug for Ebola)

  1. Are there any natural remedies for Ebola?

There are no natural remedies available so far to prevent or treat the Ebola infection. Do not fall prey to false rumors that say natural remedies like tulsi or salt water are effective in curing the disease. (Read: Are there any natural remedies for the virus?)

  1. How do I protect myself?

The only effective way to prevent Ebola infection is to follow precautionary measures like educating yourself about Ebola, following proper hygiene and sanitation practices and using protective gear. One can also prevent the spread of the disease by avoiding close contact with the body fluids of an infected person, treating skin injuries immediately, avoiding unnecessary travel (especially to Ebola affected countries) and stay away from consuming under-cooked meat. (Read: 8 tips to prevent Ebola infection)

  1. Do we have a vaccine against Ebola?

Although we have a vaccine against Ebola but the FDA has not approved its use in humans due to lack of clinical evidence on humans. The vaccine VSV-EBOV has shown promising results in animals and clinical trials are going on to determine its safety and efficacy in humans. But currently it is being used in Ebola-hit areas as an experimental vaccine.

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