Ebola Virus Sweeps West Africa in Largest Recorded Outbreak

Kara Jones

7/28/2014 4:30:00 PM - Kara Jones

Incidence rates continue to climb as the Ebola virus spreads through West African nations in what epidemiologists are calling the largest-ever recorded outbreak of the disease.

As the Associated Press reports, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken initiative to contain the virus by calling for the quarantine of entire communities and closing all but three land border crossings into the country.

The disease, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluid, puts both public health officials and the general population at risk. Those infected include two Americans, a medical director from Samaritan's Purse and a missionary worker with the Christian humanitarian organization Serving in Mission. Thousands more have fallen ill and nearly 700 have died.

USA Today has the stats:

Since it was detected in March, the number of cases attributed to Ebola in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stands at 1,201, including 672 deaths:

Symptoms of Ebola include acute weakness, sudden onset fever, headache, muscle pain, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. The incubation period from the time of contraction can range anywhere from two to 21 days and the virus only becomes contagious once the patient begins to show symptoms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is currently no cure for Ebola and no vaccine to prevent it. Though the fatality rate is a staggering 90 percent, the disease can be treated by maintaining adequate blood pressure, balancing electrolytes, and quickly treating any other developing infections.

The latest scare arose in the Nigerian city of Lagos after a man traveling from Liberia brought the virus with him. As health professionals are working to stop the spread, we must be reminded that the threat of infectious disease is just one flight away.