Ebola Outbreak in Guinea

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CONAKRY, Guinea — Guinea has seen the worst outbreak of Ebola in its history with over 130 people dead from direct exposure to the deadly virus. Dealing with the epidemic has placed a great strain upon healthcare professionals in the region who treat infected individuals non-stop and in doing so place themselves at great risk of infection.

The African continent has seen its share of nasty outbreaks, but this is the worst seen in several years. This epidemic has been especially brutal due to the destruction the Ebola virus unleashes on the victim’s body.

Ebola first reared its ugly head in 1976 with two outbreaks, one in Sudan and the other in the Democratic Republic of  the Congo.

Unfortunately, one shows no symptoms of infection for close to 21 days after contracting the Ebola virus. This means that individuals who have contracted the virus freely travel or go about their daily lives with no knowledge of what they’re carrying.

The virus slowly shuts down the victim’s immune system, giving it free reign to infest the entire body. The victim’s blood vessel system begins to clot throughout the entire body, and the victim begins to externally bleed.

A 90 percent mortality rate accompanies the Ebola virus; there is no vaccine that exists that can adequately treat it.

Scientists studying the epidemic believe it began through some type of animal to human transmission but lack the definitive evidence to prove that hypothesis. It is true that Ebola begins through animal transmission; many point to the fruit bat family of Pteropodidae as a more than likely host for the virus.

Individuals most at risk for infection are those who directly deal with victims suffering from the virus or those actively coming in contact with dead bodies. Many point to burial ceremonies in which individuals attending the funeral come into direct contact with the dead body as a definitive mechanism by which it spreads.

Researchers originally thought the Ebola outbreak in Guinea remained centered around small towns scattered throughout, but became surprised when the virus showed up in the city of Conakry, home to two million people.

Over the course of several months, many have expressed anger and fear over what to do to avoid infection and who to blame for its spread. Many citizens expressed anger at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), accusing them of bringing the virus to Conakry.

The anger reached its climax when a mob attacked a treatment center where many were quarantined.

It’s easy to see where their anger comes from, a sizable percentage of victims who have succumbed to the virus are those who have been treating individuals within these clinics.

Luckily, the spread of the virus seems to be slowing in recent weeks. Those treating the virus state that once there ceases to be any new cases coming in then it will be safe to confirm the end of the outbreak.

One of the shining examples of how this outbreak is different from many others is the use of mobile devices for communication. Those within the quarantined treatment centers are able to communicate with family members and loved ones dispelling some of the awful rumors that surround the treatment centers as well as dispelling any type of conspiracies that may develop out of fear.

Sources: The Economist, CNN, Reuters, NBC, Aljazeera, WHO
Photo: The Shiva World News

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