News World Explainer: All you need to know about Ebola
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Explainer: All you need to know about Ebola

Ebola
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West African countries are grappling with the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history, with more than 670 deaths from the incurable disease reported.

According to a report by The Australian, countries are becoming increasingly desperate to contain the highly contagious virus, with countries like Liberia closing most of its borders.

• Top Ebola doctor dies of virus
• US doctor with Ebola critical

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) says that the situation in West African countries Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia is “deteriorating rapidly”.

Symptoms

According to a Daily Mail Australia report, the Ebola virus attacks the immune system, with early symptoms mimicking the common cold.

Doctors warn that initial symptoms include headaches, fever and muscle aches, before more severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding from the nose, mouth and eyes.

The Ebola mortality rate is incredibly high, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) reporting that the virus kills up to 90 per cent of those infected from internal and external bleeding.

How it spreads

A report by Forbes says that the virus can be spread through contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids, and those most at risk include healthcare workers and family members.

WHO says that infection can also be caused from contact with “environments contaminated with such fluids”.

Top Ebola doctor Umar Khan died from the virus this week, while a US doctor is in a critical condition after contracting the disease from patients in Liberia.

There are now fears for Nigeria, after a Liberian official visiting the country died in a Nigerian hospital. The hospital is now quarantined.

How to contain it

There is no cure for the disease at this stage, but a US pharmaceutical company is currently developing a drug which is yet to be tested on humans.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has closed most the country’s borders, and has quarantined the most heavily affected communities.

Several African airlines have also stopped flying to countries like Sierra Leone as a precautionary measure.

Concerns for other countries

The World Health Organisation says that the risk for travellers of contracting Ebola is low, because infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, sweat and blood.

Despite this, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been put on high alert this week, with doctors being asked to increase their vigilance in detecting potential Ebola cases in the US.

A Canadian doctor this week placed himself in voluntary quarantine after working with Ebola victims in West Africa, with American news organisations claiming that the deadly virus is “only a plane ride away”.