As summer travelers are well into their vacations, one more travel concern has popped onto the radar. It seems to me that these past few weeks have been chaotic on the Western part of the world. The war in Isreal, the horrific take down of the Malaysian aircraft and now EBOLA !

I was 14 when I first saw the 1995 thriller film OUTBREAK,the film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba in Zaire and later in a small town in the United States. In the film, the virus is brought into the country by an illegal infected monkey which begins the outbreak. The film ends with Doctors finding an anti-serum, which is far from reality today! If your a book-reader, The HotZone by Richard Preston is a non-fiction book about the origins and incidents involving viral hemorrhagic fevers, particularly ebolaviruses and marburgviruses. The basis of the book was Preston’s 1992 New Yorker article “Crisis in the Hot Zone

Over the weekend, Nigerian health official raced to stop the spread Ebola after a man infected with the disease traveled on a flight to Lagos Nigeria, Africa’s largest city population 21 million. This man later died, but the fact that he was able to travel with sick like symptoms raises concerns? For me this is a concern, I have two brother in laws that live in different parts of Nigeria, and travel often to the Middle East.

The Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 in Conga Africa, there have been many cases since than but it’s always been confined to small remote villages in Africa, symptoms of someone infected generally show up within10 days. Now, this is a different scenario, an infected person has traveled in a major aircraft into a heavily populated area of the country of Africa, Lagos Nigeria. Without knowing who the infected had come into contact with before, during and after the flight it’s like Russian roulette. That man has died and is revealed that he had a sister in Liberia that too had died of the EV.

Dr. Kent Brantly stands in the doorway. American Doctor, Dr. Kent Brantly a Medical Director for the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. The Texas doctor tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Image from K-Love news

Yesterday a new report was released by K-Love News that an American Doctor, Dr. Kent Brantly a Medical Director for the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. The Texas doctor tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Today a second American, Nancy Writebol, as a worker with an allied aid group Serving in Mission, which runs the hospital where Samaritan’s Purse has an Ebola care center on the grounds is said to be in stable and serious condition. Dr. Samuel Brisbane is the first Liberian doctor to die in the largest ever outbreak of the disease that has killed nearly 700 people in Africa. Other doctors have contracted the disease as health workers are placed at serious risk for the illness that has no known cure.

Ebola- what does it do?
Ebola starts with a sore throat, red eyes and possibly a rash, followed by the onset of fever, intense muscle pain, severe headaches, “vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control. In rare cases, spontaneous bleeding from body orifices and skin punctures, even needle marks, can occur. Death, which can take place anytime between 2 to 21 days, is usually caused by multiple organ failure, loss of blood or shock, according to clinical surveys conducted in the wake of the first outbreak in 1976.

Is there a cure or a vaccine?
Not yet.One potentially promising treatment in development in Canada was fast-tracked by the U.S. government earlier this month, but it will take months if not years for a full rollout. Because Ebola is so rare, and usually only infects small populations in remote corners of Africa, investment into finding a cure or a vaccine has been limited. That may change. Ebola is on the U.S. list of potential bioterror agents because humans have no natural immunity. As a consequence, the U.S. has started funding vaccine research. In the meantime, the only thing that can be done for infected patients is to treat symptoms and prevent secondary infections through the use of antibiotics, pain medication, anti-clotting drugs and IV hydration. That, and stopping the disease’s spread in the first place.

Most up to date stats from The World Health Organization (WHO)

As of 23 July 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the three countries stands at 1 201, including 672 deaths. The distribution and classification of the cases are as follows: Guinea, 427 cases (311 confirmed, 99 probable, and 17 suspected) and 319 deaths (208 confirmed, 99 probable, and 12 suspected); Liberia, 249 cases (84 confirmed, 84 probable, and 81 suspected) and 129 deaths (60 confirmed, 50 probable, and 19 suspected); and Sierra Leone, 525 cases (419 confirmed, 56 probable, and 50 suspected) and 224 deaths (188 confirmed, 33 probable, and 3 suspected).

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