Ebola is a deadly virus that has taken many lives in the past and it has reared its ugly head again in the nation of Guinea in Africa.
The Ebola virus is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, where it was first recognized as Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
Ebola is a severe, usually fatal disease in humans and non-human primates and has appeared quite infrequently since its first identification in 1976 in Africa. Ebola virus is in the family of Filoviruses which are zoonotic pathogens.
There have been 80 cases in this recent outbreak and at least 59 deaths. This outbreak began in the West African nation of Guinea in the past month. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the outbreak is Ebola, one of the most deadly diseases in our world at a 90 percent fatality rate of those infected.
Ebola causes fever, weakness, muscle pain, sore throat and other symptoms common to a severe flu, but becomes much more virulent as it progresses. Most commonly, the victim begins vomiting, experiencing diarrhea with a possible rash and then bleeding both internally and externally.
In a written statement, UNICEF said of the 59 deaths, at least three of the victims were children.
"In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating," the UNICEF representative in Guinea, Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, said in the statement.
UNICEF has prepositioned supplies and stepped up communication on the ground to sensitize medical staff and local populations on how to avoid contracting the illness, Agoya added.
Ebola has been introduced to humans through the bodily fluids or organs of infected animals, such as chimpanzees, gorillas and fruit bats. Once it has spread to humans, though, it is transmitted rapidly from human to human through blood, bodily fluids or direct contact with a person infected with Ebola.
In the latest outbreak, Medecins Sans Frontieres - also known as Doctors without Borders - has reinforced its personnel in Guinea and flown in 33 tons of medicines and equipment. Isolation areas are being set up in the affected communities.
"Isolation units are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious," Dr. Esther Sterk, MSF tropical medicine adviser, said in a written statement. "Specialized staff are providing care to patients showing signs of infection."
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