On Monday morning there was panic across the country after a patient who exhibited suspected Ebola symptoms was admitted and immediately isolated at the Kericho County Referral Hospital.
The patient is believed to have been traveling to Nairobi from Malaba at the border between Kenya and the neighbouring Uganda, where several people have died following a recent outbreak of the Ebola disease.
Doctors say that blood samples from the patient have been sent to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi for further analysis.
The preliminary test results are expected to be ready within the next 12 to 24 hours.
They also assured the public that the County Referral Hospital is capable and well equipped to ensure proper isolation of the patient and protection of other hospital users.
Following this new development, many curious Kenyans have been wondering what the dreaded virus is all about, how it spreads and safety precautions to take in case of an outbreak.
So, What is Ebola?
Ebola is a deadly disease caused by a virus. There are five strains, and four of them can make people sick. After entering the body, it kills cells, making some of them explode. It wrecks the immune system, causes heavy bleeding inside the body, and damages almost every organ.
The virus sounds scary, but it’s also rare. You can get it only from direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids.
How Do You Get Ebola?
Ebola isn’t as contagious as more common viruses like colds, influenza, or measles. It spreads to people by contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, like a monkey, chimp, or fruit bat. Then it moves from person to person the same way. Those who care for a sick person or bury someone who has died from the disease often get it.
Other ways to get Ebola include touching contaminated needles or surfaces.
You can’t get Ebola from air, water, or food. A person who has Ebola but has no symptoms can’t spread the disease, either.
As the disease gets worse, it causes bleeding inside the body, as well as from the eyes, ears, and nose. Some people will vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea, and get a rash.
How Is Ebola Diagnosed?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a person has Ebola from the symptoms alone. Doctors may test to rule out other diseases like cholera or malaria.
Tests of blood and tissues also can diagnose Ebola.
If you have Ebola, you’ll be isolated from the public immediately to prevent the spread.
How Is Ebola Treated?
There’s no cure for Ebola, though researchers are working on it. Treatment includes an experimental serum that destroys infected cells.
Doctors manage the symptoms of Ebola with: Fluids and electrolytes, oxygen, blood pressure medication, blood transfusions and treatment for other infections.
How Can You Prevent Ebola?
There’s no vaccine to prevent Ebola. The best way to avoid catching the disease is by not traveling to areas where the virus is found.
If you are in areas where Ebola is present, avoid contact with bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas since these animals spread Ebola to people.
Health care workers can prevent infection by wearing masks, gloves, and goggles whenever they come into contact with people who may have Ebola.
Other Ebola Facts
There are five types of Ebola virus. Four of them cause the disease in humans.
The Ebola virus first appeared during two 1976 outbreaks in Africa.
Ebola gets its name from the Ebola River, which is near one of the villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease first appeared.
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