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What is Ebola?

Ebola Virus Disease is a severe, often fatal illness, with symptoms that include high fever, bleeding and damage to the central nervous system.
Ebola is originally contracted from infected animals, such as bats. Once in the human population Ebola then spreads through contaminated bodily fluids. The incubation period for the disease can be as long as three weeks, allowing a long time for the infected person to spread the highly contagious virus.

There is no known vaccine or cure for Ebola, resulting in fatality rates of up to 90% amongst those affected in the most isolated regions. Access to proper medical attention can significantly reduce the fatality rates of the disease.

Surely we all know this by now? But I feel like we need reminding about the reality of ebola and some of the facts.

On 17 October, the World Health Organisation reported 9191 total cases and 4546 deaths as of 14 October.  This outbreak has now infected 22 times more people than any previous Ebola outbreak, and it is the first time large-scale sustained transmission has occurred in urban environments.

It’s no surprise these countries are having difficulties dealing with the outbreak, WHO’s figures from 2012 show that for every 100,000 people Sierra Leone has 2.2 doctors, compared to 279 in the UK.

Now the initial panic has subsided and the UK feels equipped to cope with any possible risk to Westerners the focus on ebola seems to have diminished, but thousands of people are still living lives affected by the outbreak. After the disease is controlled the economic impact will be devastating to countries that were already facing challenges that we don’t have to worry about.

I’ve made a donation to the Red Cross to support their continuing work in countries affected by the ebola outbreak. Text EBOLA to 70600 to donate £3.