The Ebola virus is a serious and deadly disease transmitted by animals and humans. Scientists initially detected the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Researchers named the disease after the Ebola River that flows in the Congo. Although the Ebola virus has been present for many years, but an outbreak occurred in March 2014 that began in West Africa has proven more deadly, severe, and widespread than previousoutbreaks.

It was considered that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

According to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Ebola symptoms can take as long as three weeks to appear. Symptoms are diarrhea, fever, headache, Raised rash, Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum), vomiting, stomach pain and muscle pain.

Individuals can take several precautions to protect against Ebola like: avoiding contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person, educating themselves on recognizing the disease and preventing it, practicing careful hand hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, refraining from engaging in burial rituals that involve handling the body of a person who died from Ebola, refraining from handling items a person with Ebola has handled, including clothing, bedding, needles, or medical equipment. Healthcare workers and lab technicians also must practice very careful precautions. Careful protocol and disposal of the protective materials (gloves, masks etc) is also vital for infection prevention.

There is currently no proven treatment for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. The National Institute of Health-funded Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium, USA, is testing antibodies from different laboratories around the world with the goal of developing the best cocktail for neutralizing Ebola virus and other closely related hemorrhagic viruses. Yet, no licensed vaccines are available, but 2 potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.

As per WHO, there are no Ebola affected patients in Pakistan right now, however, if even a single affected patient entered in country without screening can cause the outbreak. Unfortunately, a majorityin Pakistan arenot even aware of the existence of this deadly virus. While US government might somehow find itselfcapable of fighting this virus but a country likePakistan, where majority of the people dont have access to basic health facilities,it could not be less than a worst nightmare. Pakistani governments have to remainvigilant and spread awareness among the people about this virus. Thus, the best way forward for Pakistan to fight Ebola, is to educate people about it.

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