Ebola: The what, when, and how

The Ebola virus began to spread throughout West Africa in March, infecting almost 6,000 people in Senegal, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

Ebola is a virus first discovered in 1976 in the Congo and Sudan, transmitted from infected animals such as bats, monkeys, or gorillas through blood or bodily fluid to humans. There have been several outbreaks since 1976, but none as large as the current one. The last outbreak occurred from late 2000 to early 2001 and infected 425 people in Central Africa.

Ebola is only spread through contact with bodily fluids or blood of an infected person. This means that the risks of an Ebola outbreak in the US are marginal, as all precautions are taken to isolate any infected people. Of the three Americans who had become infected with Ebola during the summer months, two survived. The survival rate is as low as 30% in some areas, but the average is 50%.

The thing about Ebola that scares most people is the fact that since it’s a virus, antibiotics don’t work to get rid of it. New experimental drugs, such as Zmapp, are being rushed to the infected zones to try to curb the epidemic before it spreads farther. The CDC is predicting that Ebola could spread to 1.4 million people by January of 2015 if no measures are taken to stop the spread of the virus.

If proper precautions are taken, such as isolating the infected and inoculating the healthy, the death toll will be much lower and fewer people will be infected.