Seriously, how big of a threat is the potential outbreak to us, if any at all or are we being paranoid?
The two American physicians working for Samaritans’ Purse organization, whom are now infected, have arrived at the Atlanta Emory University Medical facility for treatment. They have both reportedly been quarantined in a high-tech facility. So, in lieu of the media frenzy, I wanted to make sure to brush up on my knowledge of this angry old Ebola virus; what the dangers of transporting this disease can bring to the city I live and work in every day, as well as how this could affect the Caribbean region.
Although, this has been headline news for a couple of days now; I am pretty sure many of us are still scratching our heads wondering what this virus is, how it is transmitted and how to check for symptoms before my imagination runs away with it.
How mistrust of modern medicine may be promoting transmission.
This Times magazine article The Truth About Ebola opines that articles, like this one, across the web are prematurely jumping on the keyword band wagon and spreading false alarm in regards to the uncontrollable nature of a possible ebola epidemic.
“… While it may increase their ratings, it lets the real culprits off the hook. Limited health infrastructure, insufficient numbers of trained health workers, too few fully equipped labs, and not enough education and preventative epidemiology are the sad realities that push this scourge on.”
As I continue conversations with people within the medical community my mini investigation on the ebola virus has taken me down a hypothetical dirt road when reminded how cultural factors may be at the root cause of this particular outbreak in west Africa.
It seem to be a fairly common assertion that people in underserved countries have mistrust for Western medicine and the Western medical system. Which could have fanned this fire. There is evidence that in many situations any kind of sickness can easily be blamed on a curse, dehydration could be getting treated with home made hydration cures, etc.
Because this virus can be asymptomatic for a period of time it may have led infected individuals to believe that they walk in these ‘western’ facilities and leave with a disease. Which then explains why and how this inherent mistrust may have pushed infected individuals to visit the village doctor Instead of taking heed and going to a facility and inadvertently transmit the virus.
The World health organization agrees according this article.
This is how Dr. Hooi breaks down what a VIRUS is and how this gnarly Ebola Virus works itself through the system and causes total mayhem.
“Viruses are part of the microbiological world. They are the most abundant type of biological entity. This small infectious agents consisting out of DNA or RNA molecules which are genetic information needs a cell to depend on in order to survive and to replicate. There are several forms and classifications of viruses. Depending on their classification to which family they belong.
There are certain target cells the Ebola virus attacks one of them is the endothelial cell that are located in the inner layer of your blood vessels. The Ebola virus destabilizes the cells and interferes with the ability for the cells to adhere to each other which is one of the causes of haemorrhaging.
Another target cell is the hepatocyte which is found in the liver.The combination of the damage caused by the attacks of the hepatocytes and endothelial cells causes liver damage which may lead to major coagulation (capacity for the blood to clot) problems thus causing non-stop bleeding. This is what causes your blood pressure to drop.”
- “Think of your body as the country and your immune system as it’s army. “
- “Now Imagine your army having specialized soldiers aimed at specific target ‘enemies’. “
- “Then picture the ebola virus doing its very best to get rid of ALL the soldiers specialized in killing it.”
- “Depleted Immune System”
Source: CDC Center for Disease Control.The first Ebola virus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Ebola HF (Haemorragic Fever) is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus.Some people ARE able to recover. It is known that patients who do die did not develop significant immune response to virus at the time of passing. Those who contract the virus remain contagious even after death.
Improper handling the infected body can also continue to transmit the disease.
Dr. Desiree Hooi Curaçao recommends taking very special care when reviewing symptoms. At first they may seem a lot like the same symptoms you get from the Flu or Dengue however, as time goes by you will start experiencing the symptoms getting significantly worse and closer to the actual symptoms of the terrifying hemorrhagic fever the ebola virus has become infamous for.Once infected the symptoms start abruptly. Anywhere between 2 – 21 days after exposure!
Here are the typical signs and symptoms of infection in sequence according to the WHO (World Health Organization)
Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
• Sudden onset of Fever
• Intense weakness
• Joint and muscle Aches
• Sore throat
• Difficulty Breathing
• Impaired Kidney & Liver function
• Sore throat
Worst case scenario.
How would an outbreak like this affect the Caribbean region?
Dr.Hooi shares with us that at this point in time the most important thing for the Caribbean and U.S continent is a great awareness campaign. In this case, prevention is the best medicine. She also believes in the importance of creating general guidelines for all Caribbean islands regarding prevention and indeed how to isolate patients who came in contact with this virus. And emphasizes the importance of everyone in the public and private sectors; the government, social workers police force, fire department, specialists and professionals who are involved unite and remain united towards a common outcome the safety and security of their communities on each island.
For more information please visit the WHO, CDC and your local Ministry of Health. A Caribbean360.com article reported that “St Lucia’s national Epidemiologist, Nahum Jn Baptiste, is confident that the Eastern Caribbean sub-region is prepared for any eventuality in connection with the Ebola virus.”
Is it safe to travel during an outbreak?
What is the WHO’s advice?
During an outbreak, WHO reviews the public health situation regularly, and recommends any travel or trade restrictions if necessary.The risk of infection for travelers is very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with the body fluids or secretions of an infected patient.WHO’s general travel advice
- Travelers should avoid all contact with infected patients.
- Health workers traveling to affected areas should strictly follow WHO-recommended infection control guidance.
- Anyone who has stayed in areas where cases were recently reported should be aware of the symptoms of infection and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness.
- Clinicians caring for travelers returning from affected areas with compatible symptoms are advised to consider the possibility of Ebola virus disease.
So, in conclusion. Everybody calm down but don’t get too comfortable yet. Based on the research we all have available to us now, my understanding is that what they are trying to do by bringing the physicians to Atlanta (Home of the CDC in the U.S.) is not to CURE the virus or ANY virus for that matter, they are using advanced facilities and medical knowledge to manage the symptoms.
“Since it is a hemorrhagic condition which means uncontrolled loss of blood the patient must be properly hydrated. And considering the complication, it must be possible to monitor the liver and kidney function appropriately. Also, I think the hygiene and appropriate care and monitoring to prevent complications will be higher and better in the U.S.” says Dr. Hooi.
It is my understanding now that most people who contract Ebola virus die because they are not able to ride out the virus symptoms thus experiencing organ failure before their bodies are able to dispel the virus. The intention of bringing the two physicians back to the United States seems to be a very clear effort to help them ‘ride-out’ the virus. At this point in time no medical community including the U.S. have the ability to CURE viruses. We can only immunize against them. Therefore what makes this case different as well as dangerous is that there is no vaccination yet.