Ebola. Scary, isn’t it? The epidemic going on in West Africa right now is the biggest outbreak yet. As of November 2, it has killed just under 5,000 people with a suspected 13,000 cases.

The first known outbreak of the virus was in 1976 from June through November in Nzara, South Sudan. However, Ebola wasn’t isolated and named for over 30 years after the Nzara epidemic. There have been 9 major outbreaks since 1976 (counting the current outbreak).

Map of Ebola Spread

The current epidemic is thought to have been started by a two-year-old boy in Guinea who died in December of 2013. HIs mother, sister, and grandmother also began showing symptoms and soon were killed by the deadly virus. But, because no cases had ever been reported in West Africa, the first reports were dismissed as diseases more common to the area and because of that Ebola had a few months to spread unnoticed.

Ebola is spread through direct contact of blood or other bodily fluids. Symptoms start to show after about 8-10 days. They may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
  • Internal bleeding

The most recent test vaccine that seems to be effective was one that takes survivor’s blood and removes small amounts of plasma, the clear part of your blood that contains antibodies.

The last case of Ebola in the US was released from a hospital in New York on Wednesday, November 12. There is almost no chance to contract Ebola in the US.

Images courtesy of http://www.eboladeeply.org