Ebola – Symptoms, Spread, Risks
We’ve been asked to post up some basics on Ebola, and are only too happy to help:
What are the symptoms, and what should I do if I think I’m infected?
A person infected with Ebola virus will typically develop a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, a sore throat, and intense muscle weakness. These symptoms start suddenly, between two and 21 days after becoming infected, but usually after five to seven days. If you feel unwell with the above symptoms within 21 days of coming back from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, you should stay at home and immediately telephone 111 or 999 and explain that you have recently visited West Africa.
These services will provide advice and arrange for you to be seen in a hospital if necessary so the cause of your illness can be determined. It’s really important that medical services are expecting your arrival and calling 111 or 999 will ensure this happens.
How does Ebola spread among people?
People can become infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person. Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people, either by directly touching the victim’s body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit) that carry infectious blood.
Read more information about how Ebola spreads, and how the outbreak started.
Who is at risk, and how can we prevent its spread?
Anyone who cares for an infected person or handles their blood or fluid samples is at risk of becoming infected. Hospital workers, laboratory workers and family members are at greatest risk.
Strict infection control procedures and wearing protective clothing minimises this risk – see preventing the spread of Ebola virus for more information. Simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus.
How is Ebola virus disease treated?
There’s currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus disease, although potential new vaccines and drug therapies are being developed and tested. Patients diagnosed with Ebola virus disease are placed in isolation in intensive care, where their blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are maintained at the right level and their body organs supported. Healthcare workers need to avoid contact with the bodily fluids of their infected patients by taking strict precautions.
It’s difficult to know if a patient is infected with Ebola virus in the early stages as symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle pain are similar to those of many other diseases.pecialist infection clinicians will make expert judgements on what the most likely diagnosis is, based on the patient’s history.
Why is the risk low for people in the UK?
The likelihood of catching Ebola virus disease is considered very low unless you’ve travelled to a known infected area and had direct contact with a person with Ebola-like symptoms, or had contact with an infected animal or contaminated objects.
– Not easily transmitted
There has been just one imported case of Ebola in the UK. While it is possible more people infected with Ebola could arrive in the UK on a plane, the virus is not as easily transmitted as a respiratory virus such as influenza.
Only infectious when symptoms start
People infected with Ebola do not become infectious until shortly before they develop symptoms. The disease then progresses very rapidly. This means infectious people do not walk around spreading the disease for a long period.
It typically takes five to seven days for symptoms to develop after infection, so there is time to identify people who may have been exposed, put them under surveillance and, if they show symptoms, quarantine them.
– Effective infection control procedures
In past outbreaks, infection control measures have been very effective in containing Ebola within the immediate area. The UK has a robust public health system with the trained staff and facilities necessary to contain cases of Ebola.
All information from The NHS, full link here