by CHRYSTAL STASICKY Media Editor
Ebola experts answered the public’s questions about the West African virus in a recent Reddit AMA session.
Both Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Dr. Estrella Lasry, a tropical medicine adviser for Doctors Without Borders, are working to understand Ebola.
“The Ebola virus is truly scary. I don’t know how I would have handled it if I or someone I cared about contracted the virus. I am really relieved that there are many doctors in West Africa as we speak helping out and trying to contain the deadly disease. I hope that it can be slowed down because so many people have died from it already. It is tragic to think about how many lives have been cut short because of it,” said senior Hadeer Hassan.
Professor Morse confirmed that the outbreak started in animals. Coming in close contact with fruit bats, or eating infected chimpanzees and antelopes is how the virus spread among the West African population. The fruit bat is the animal that is believed to be the carrier of the disease.
The virus starts as a slight fever and then progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and internal, as well as external, bleeding.
It is the severe bleeding that has been killing off the victims. According to the World Health Organization, out of the 1,323 individuals who were diagnosed with Ebola, 729 of them have died.
The population is decreasing rapidly not only due to the spreading of the disease through contact of the infected bodily fluids, but also the lack of human resources. Lasry says that the “international response has been slow and weak.” There are not many people doing hands-on work, which is making it difficult for patients to receive proper treatment.
Senior Haley Dzingleski said, “I could understand why doctors and specialists are not volunteering to travel to West Africa and help with the Ebola outbreak. I mean, I certainly would not want to be around the virus and risk my own life by being in that environment. One could easily fall victim to the disease themselves and then suffer along with the other casualties. However, I would want to do the right thing. Being there and treating the sick to help them survive or possibly even finding a cure is the right thing to do. I really hope many people come to realize this and will help out. The outbreak really needs to be contained. No more daughters, brothers, sisters, sons, or parents should have to die from this disease.”
Doctors have been taking care of the ill by keeping them hydrated and maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure. They also have the sick wearing gowns, gloves, and masks to prevent the spread of any bodily fluids to the healthcare workers.
What is your opinion on the outbreak? What else do you think can be done to help the victims?