Havana Sundaes: Ebola Virus

I figured since the virus has touched every other aspect of my life from fear of outbreak at my former hospital to emails flooding my inbox from WHO, CDC, and ANNA that I might as well allow it to creep into my writing world as well.  I must talk about it.

What I have seen most this week is the general public’s ignorance of the disease.  That I don’t mind.  There are many issues I am not knowledgeable in and Ebola is something as new to me as it is the public.  What I mind is the spread of ignorance and ridiculous conspiracy theories that spread like wildfire as truth, faster than any pandemic ever could in the age of internet.  No one bothers to fact check before clicking share or weighing in.

Here are a few facts about Ebola and you are more than welcome to verify them.  If there is something incorrect then please correct me.  I am a human, a human nurse, but a human and therefore subject to making mistakes.

  • Ebola IS NOT NEW.  In fact, the first cases of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever were discovered in 1976 in Africa in two separate strains in the Sudan and near the Ebola River, hence how the disease got it’s name  (World Health Organization, 2014)
  • Ebola is a big deal right now because the strain has spread and caused more deaths in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia since March of 2014 than in all years since 1976 combined.  The reason for this most likely is because these are war stricken parts of Africa right now with decreased sanitation, health care, community support, and food supplies. (WHO, 2014)
  • There are five species of Ebola virus.  The disease is not mutating.  That is not to say it can’t.  All living things adapt to survive so surely it can but for now it is not.  The species are Bundibugyo, Sudan, Zaire, Reston, and Tai Forest.  Responsible for this current outbreak is the strain Zaire. (WHO, 2014)
  • Symptoms of the disease are latent until it’s later stages so most people will not know they have contracted it or may have transmitted it until later stages.  It is best then to wash your hands after any public contact.  Not just for healthcare workers.  Wash hands after handling money, transportation, shopping.  Do not touch your face, bite your nails, comb your fingers through your hair without washing your hands or sanitizing them first.  These are everyday precautions during flu season though and not a reason to panic or dawn face masks.
  • There are three factors that are impacting world wide panic BUT with education and calm observation we can conquer these issues:
    1. Human to human transmission.  It is suspected that the initial disease was from primates in West Africa and in one strain pigs.  People automatically assume that this means sexual contact but that is ridiculous and unlikely.  Most likely hunting these animals for meat.  In take down, transport, or consuming of this animal blood to blood or ingesting of improperly cooked meat occurred and the virus was born. (Center for Disease Control and prevention, 2014)
    2. High rates of morbidity and mortality.  There is only approximate 50% survival rate. (WHO, 2014).  That survival rate depends heavily on diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. (CDC, 2014)
    3. That being said, even still there is no FDA approved vaccine or single treatment/cure. (CDC, 2014)
  • Many of my fellow healthcare workers are going to bash me for this statement but it IS the nurse’s fault, in both the recent instances for transmission of the Ebola Virus in the U.S. from the patient to healthcare workers.  In most hospitals there is an Infection Control Board in place that monitors wearing of proper Personal Protective Equipment, hand washing, and patient isolation.  I posted on a friend’s thread how I, as a nurse,  let my guard down and ended up with a bad eye infection that took months to clear up.  Doesn’t mean the nurse is careless or that the hospital could not have given proper support and education but ultimately the nurse knows better.  For any nurses that would like to know more about following proper DROPLET PRECAUTIONS they can read up here (http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/2007IP/2007ip_part2.html#e).  Susceptibility is an occupational hazard and to protect the ones we love we must be aware of the risks, educate ourselves on the disease process, and practice diligently preventative measures.

This is all I have for you but if anyone has questions or helpful comments I would be glad to do the research for you as I have a great deal of information from reputable sources.  The media’s creation of mass hysteria is dangerous and counterproductive to getting the pandemic under control.  There are many theories on how this most recent outbreak occurred involving genocide and covert assistance from the American Red Cross.  I do not believe nor support these theories but withhold my own until more information presents itself.

References and basic information:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/

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