With the news that Ebola has struck its first-ever patient on U.S. soil, information on the symptoms of the disease will undoubtedly be of interest to North Americans.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) can manifest in the human body by causing a high fever (38.6 degrees Celsius), stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and a strong headache, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On average, it takes eight to 10 days for these symptoms to appear, but they can also show up within a two- to 21-day period.
The virus hits one's organs and immune system, affecting blood clotting and causing "uncontrollable bleeding," according to WebMD.
It is generally spread to humans via wild animals, usually through contact with the fluids of infected creatures that are found sick or dead in the rainforest, says the World Health Organization (WHO). The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats are thought to be the host of the virus.
Ebola then infects people's bodily fluids, such as blood, breast milk and semen. Humans can transmit the virus to each other through these substances, or by coming into contact with items and surfaces that contain them.
According to the WHO: "Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding."
Ebola does not travel by air, water or food, says WebMD, and a person can't transmit it if they have the virus but don't show any symptoms.
About half of Ebola sufferers die after infection, though fatality rates have ranged anywhere between 25 and 90 per cent when the virus has surfaced previously, according to the WHO.
There is no proven cure for the virus, but efforts are underway to develop a vaccine.
Two American missionaires, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were released from hospital last month after being treated for the virus with an experimental drug known as ZMapp, CNN reported.
Patients have to show two negative blood tests for Ebola in order to be released. In the case of Brantley and Writebol, it was determined that they could no longer infect people through their bodily fluids.
Researchers have said that people who survive the virus are immune to it afterwards, after antibodies were found in sufferers' systems that could protect against it and other ailments.
Other methods used to treat Ebola have included replacing lost blood; isolating infected patients; and maintaining certain fluid levels and electrolytes, says the Public Health Agency of Canada.
People who are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak are urged to practice careful hygiene and avoid contact with any bodily fluids or items that have come in contact with an infected person's body fluids. The CDC also emphasizes monitoring one's health and seeking medical care if symptoms of Ebola arise.
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