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Can I Get Ebola From This? Your Ebola Questions Answered

What even is Ebola?

You’ve probably seen this little coiled, string-like thing on television. That’s the ebola virus. First discovered in Africa in 1976, Ebola is classified as a “rare and deadly disease” by the CDC. There are five strains of it, four them causing disease in humans. Primates can also be infected by ebola.

What are the symptoms?

The first signs of Ebola are fever, headache, muscle pain, chills and general fatigue or weakness. These symptoms will generally appear within five to ten days of infection. Symptoms to progress and worsen into vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and hemorrhaging. Due to the aggressive nature of the virus, many patients will die of severe bleeding and organ failure.

How do you get it?

The good news is that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air or food. You can get it through contact with bodily fluids from the infected person, which include semen, blood, saliva, urine, feces or even sweat. Needles that have been contaminated with the virus can also spread it.

How many people in the U.S. actually have it?

You’ve probably heard conflicting news reports of supposed patients having ebola around the U.S. only to find out later it was just a scare. The truth is, only two people have been infected by Ebola within the United States. Both patients are nurses who treated another patient with Ebola, who had travelled from Liberia and has since died. The rest of the patients were outside of the United States. Three have recovered, three are in treatment and one has died. It’s unclear at this point whether or not the recently infected patients have managed to infect anyone else, but the CDC is working to decontaminate all the areas they came into contact with.

Is there a cure? A treatment?

So, how did those in the U.S. recover from Ebola when so many have perished in Africa? The bad news is that there is no known or approved cure for Ebola. However, patients are typically treated for their symptoms. Doctors work to treat their infections, keep them hydrated and balance their oxygen and blood pressure status. There are experimental drugs, however, these have not been proven to work on a larger audience and haven’t been approved.

How do I protect myself?

Of course, if you’re travelling to an area where Ebola is known to be, you should practice hygiene as well as keep out of contact with infected objects or patients. Avoid sharing bodily fluids with anyone and carefully monitor your health. If you develop any signs of Ebola, seek medical attention immediately.

That being said, within the United States, the Ebola situation is being carefully controlled and all those infected are being carefully treated. Don't believe every news story you hear; many of them are generated by fear and misinformation surrounding Ebola. So, just stay safe, monitor yourself, check your health, but, above all, don’t panic. 

Check out the CDC's website to learn more about Ebola. 

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Chelsea Cirruzzo is a sophomore at American University studying Public Relations and Strategic Communications. She is originally from Long Island. In addition to writing for Her Campus American, Chelsea is a Community-Based Research Scholar as well as a Resident Assistant. When not reading or writing, Chelsea can be found seeking out pizza wherever it might be or talking about feminism. 
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