Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat and It progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, and both internal and external bleeding.
People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, feaces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola and patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.
Ebola was discovered in 1976, when there were two deadly outbreaks of the disease. One was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former Zaire, in a village near the Ebola river, hence the virus’s name. However, exactly where Ebola comes from remains something of a mystery.
People are not the “natural hosts” of Ebola. And in every outbreak, the virus has transferred to humans from another animal species. Fruit bats are a very likely culprit – but this has not been definitively confirmed
Is there a vaccine?
Yes, there is. It is 99% effective and more than 161,000 people have received it.
However, not everybody is vaccinated – only those who come into direct contact with an Ebola patient, and people who come into contact with them. And some of those people refuse to take it.
People give a variety of reasons for not taking the vaccine, including:
- They may have religious beliefs that do not permit them to take vaccines
- They may think they do not need it
- They may not believe in Ebola
The vaccine, made by Merck, was developed during the epidemic in West Africa and has been available throughout the latest outbreak.
It has proven effective but is in relatively short supply, so the WHO has recommended a second vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson to complement it.H