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Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

May 2014 – A hot topic on the world news right now is the issue of the Ebola virus that is spreading throughout West Africa and threatening to spread to other parts of the world creating a global health crisis.

Since I live in West Africa, and teach health awareness classes, this is a topic of interest to me. I know there are a lot of websites and blogs featuring this disease, but I just wanted to post my humble findings in hopes that the research I have done can be of help to others.

The following is a simple, but detailed, write-up of the facts concerning this disease, as well as a compiled information of what you can if you encounter this disease.

About the Ebola Virus:

There are five different known strands of this Ebola virus, but the one currently in circulation is the Zaire Ebolavirus. This disease is named after a river in the Congo (formerly Zaire), where the disease was said to have first appeared in the late 1900’s. No one knows how the virus originated, but it is believed to be a zoonosis – an animal disease that can spread to humans. This is a very serious, often deadly disease that affects humans and monkeys. The current strand of Ebola is believed to be spread by fruit bats, but other animals are also able to be carriers of the virus.

The Ebola virus causes bleeding in the body (hemorrhaging), which can lead to organ failure, shock, and death.

Death Rate

The death rate of this highly contagious disease can reach 90% fatality. However, in this current outbreak the death rate has only been about 55% fatal. Most of the deaths have been attributed to dehydration, which strongly enforces the need for the sick to be well hydrated. A strong immune system is also vital for survival, since this virus

How Ebola Spreads

Humans initially get the disease from eating the meat of infected animals. After the first person is infected, it spreads to other people through direct contact with blood or body fluids.

There are rumors that the virus may also be able to spread through air particles, but Scientists have so far not been able to prove or disprove this theory.  

A person is contagious only if they have signs of the symptoms. However, men who contract the disease can continue to transmit the virus through the semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from the illness.

People Most Likely to Get Ebola

Anyone can get Ebola, but the people who are the most likely to contract this deadly virus are people who eat wild meat, or people who care for the sick or bury the dead.

Signs and Symptoms:

Symptoms begin to appear within 6-16 days following exposure or contact with the virus.

Early symptoms include:

– a very sudden, and very high fever

– headache

– weakness

– muscle pain

– sore throat

– stomach pain

– loss of appetite

These initial symptoms are soon followed by:

– nausea

– vomiting

– diarrhea

– a measles-like rash (beginning on the chest and then spreading to other parts of the body)

Other symptoms may include:

– hiccups

– blisters in the mouth and throat

– cough

– difficulty swallowing

– very red eyes

Later symptoms include:

– hemorrhaging*

– kidney or liver malfunction or failure

– shock

– cerebral edema (fluid on the brain)

– the person may go into a coma or appear to be “spacy” or unresponsive.

* Hemorrhaging usually begins between day 4 to day 7, and can cause bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, lips, gums, genitals and any other opening of the body. The person may also cough up blood or have blood in the vomit or diarrhea.


Caregivers should use masks, gowns, and gloves, and take extra precautions against exposure to the bodily fluids of the sick or dead.

Any objects that have been used or touched by the sick person should be burned or thoroughly washed with boiling water and bleach. This includes any dishes, bedding, towels, linens, clothes, needles, and anything else that comes in contact with the person’s body. This also includes the gloves and clothing worn by the caretakers.

Good hygiene should be practiced by everyone, especially by caregivers. Hands should be washed frequently and thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap.

Preventing the Spread of Ebola

If someone is suspected of having the Ebola virus, the area where they are should be quarantined immediately (no one is to come or go from the premises). Individuals exposed to the virus should be isolated and kept out of public places for the full incubation period (16-21 days).

Authorities should be contacted and notified of the possible case. Do not transport a suspected person unless advised by authorities to do so. Moving the person from one place to another caries the risk of spreading the disease to other locations and exposing more people to the highly contagious virus.

If transportation of a patient is necessary, the person should be transported in a private vehicle, preferable seated on plastic sheets taking care not to touch anything or anyone. If possible, call ahead to the medical facility so they can be ready and equipped to receive the person.

The bodies of people who have died of Ebola are contagious. Helping prepare these bodies for burial can increase your risk of developing the disease yourself. Specially trained teams should oversee the burial of Ebola victims, as they will have the appropriate equipment to do so safely.

Medication and Vaccines

There is currently no medicine to address this disease, and no vaccine available for its prevention.  There are some “fast-track” medicines and vaccines currently being worked on, however, without the proper amount of time for testing these new products, their safety cannot be guaranteed, and long-term effects of these medicines are unknown, which create an added risk.

Currently healthcare workers are using forms of supportive care for the Ebola patients, providing fluids to prevent dehydration, maintaining adequate blood pressure, giving blood transfusions to replace any loss of blood, ensuring the patient has enough oxygen, and treating any other infections that develop. Treatment is intense, and due to the highly contagious stage of the virus, care is best given in facilities that are equipped to enforce sanitation and the isolation of the virus.

Helpful Findings

While there are no medicines to cure this disease, there are still things that can be done to address the crisis.

Sunlight and UV rays, for example, have been found to be very beneficial against this virus. Airing out mattresses or linens for at least 6 hours in direct sun can be effective in killing the virus. Ebola patients can also benefit from time spent in the sunlight, both for the anti-viral affects of the UV rays as well as receiving a good dose of Vitamin D.

The Danger of Dehydration!

Most of the deaths of Ebola victims have been a result of dehydration. Reports have shown that people who drink enough water are most likely to survive the disease. The human body needs both salt and sugar in order to use water properly, so people who are sick with Ebola should be given Rehydration Drink to give the body everything it needs to prevent/treat dehydration.

You can make your own Rehydration Drink by mixing together 1 liter of water, 8 teaspoons sugar (or honey), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. The person should drink the entire liter of Rehydration Drink in as short a time possible, not taking in any other fluids until it is finished.

In a 24 hour period, an adult should drink at least 3 liters of water, and young children at least 1 liter. I cannot stress it enough how important it is to drink lots of water – quite literally it can be the difference of life and death for Ebola victims.

Powerful Essential Oils

Essential oils can be very useful in combating viruses and preventing the contraction of epidemic or plague-like diseases. Here is a link to a very helpful web page that has a lot of information about how essential oils can help and which oils to use:

Essential Oils & More to Combat Ebola Virus

Herbal Supplements

There are a number of plants and herbs that can be helpful in treating the symptoms of Ebola.

Garlic – contains powerful anti-viral properties and immune boosting abilities.

Ginger – helps cleanse the blood and promote healthy circulation that can help prevent shock.

Corn silk – helps the kidneys to function well, reducing the risk of kidney failure.

Roselle – in West Africa the plant hibiscus sabdariffa (also known by local names as Fullery, Bissap, and Zobo), is excellent for kidney health. Combined with corn silk it can be very effective in reducing the risk of kidney failure.

Papaya root – promotes good liver function, reducing the risk of liver failure. Alternatively young Dandelion roots can be used.

Citrus – any type of citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, etc) are good for the liver, especially as an addition to the papaya or dandelion root.

Echinacea / Goldenseal / Aloe Vera Juice – these plants (used individually or combined) are all very good for strengthening the immune system and the bodies natural resistance to disease.

A Word of Encouragement

In conclusion, I would just like to offer a word of encouragement. Many of the news articles and resources featuring the Ebola virus have a tendency to strike fear in our hearts, especially as the Ebola virus is declared to be a global crisis. But this is no reason for panic or fear, it is simply a call to awareness, caution, and preparedness.

To keep things in perspective, we must remember that there are many other diseases that are more contagious than Ebola, and other diseases that have a higher rate of deaths per year. What makes this particular disease so frightening is how quickly it progresses, the gruesomeness of the hemorrhaging, and the lack of medicine or vaccines to address this disease.

But we can be encouraged by the fact that even without medicines or vaccines, the death rate has been considerably low considering that this disease has the potential of having a 98% death rate, but currently it stands at 55%.

What’s more, is that when we look at the cases of those who have died, we find that many of these deaths are a result of dehydration and weak immune systems (due to malnutrition). Even apart from the Ebola virus, dehydration and malnutrition are two very common problems that are present in West Africa and responsible for a great many deaths each year.

We can also say that lack of training and education is also a contributing factor to the deaths and the continue spread of this disease. Here in Africa, the average person does not understand the basics of hygiene. They do not understand how disease spreads, or even the common knowledge of what causes disease.

Without the basic understanding of health and science, it is impossible for them to understand why they should break their tribal traditions in regards to the treatment of their sick and the burial of their dead. Close family ties and the keeping of ancient traditions are very important to the African people. And while it is tragic to see the effects of this lack of education, still, it is understandable considering the cultures and mind-sets of the people, and the general distrust they have for doctors and modern medicine.

Were this not the case, I am sure we would see an even lower percentage of deaths as a result of Ebola. In contrast, even with regards to malaria, which is an easy-to-cure disease, there is no reason why so many people should die of malaria except for the simple reason that the local people do not understand the disease, and so do not accept the cure.

Should the Ebola virus spread to other parts of the world, I expect there will be a lower percentage of deaths in other countries than there has been in West Africa, if only people can be well informed and prepared in advance. Which is why I wanted to share this information, and also encourage you to pass it on.

I hope this information has been helpful to you, and that with this knowledge, there would also be a peace of mind as we seek to be prepared for anything, but ultimately rest in the hands of the Almighty God.