By: Semira N. Allen
Ebola was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a viral hemorrhagic fever meaning it can cause fever and a susceptibility to bleeding. Symptoms start with a flu-like stage where the patient exhibits fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, weakness, and joint pain. Then, as the virus progresses the patient may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion and in some cases internal and external bleeding may occur.
Many news outlets sensationalize and cause undue panic about Ebola. Those who are at risk of infection include family, friends and healthcare providers in close contact (i.e. Contact with the patients bodily fluids) with the patient. You cannot contract the virus unless you have had contact with an infected persons bodily fluids or have had direct contact with contaminated objects. You can also become infected by coming into contact with infected wildlife but this is unlikely for those living in the United States.
Using simple hygiene methods can prevent Ebola. Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer is effective. Also, avoiding contact with objects that infected persons have handled can lower your risk of infection. Realistically, most in the United States have noting to worry about when it comes to contracting Ebola unless they have recently visited West Africa.