Ebola: hype or havoc?

Monday, November 17, 2014

By Rob Buffum

Campus Life released a statement Oct. 17 regarding information about Ebola for DCCC students. It included information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Ebola Resources, such as symptoms and preventive measures.

Ebola has been a front page story in both the New York Times and USA TODAY several times in the last few weeks, offering headlines such as USA TODAY’s “Confusion driving U.S. Ebola policies.”

Yet the average person, when asked what Ebola is, gives a variety of answers.

Students may recite the symptoms of Ebola, or tell you they heard the Philadelphia airport is detaining people.

“[Understanding Ebola] went from knowing nothing, to knowing too much,” said Robert Warren, an engineering major at DCCC.

But is Ebola really a threat at DCCC?

“I hope not,” said Jacqueline Ballen, a child psychology major at the college. “There may be students here that are from [West Africa].”

Misconceptions abound.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes Ebola as a rare and deadly disease that affects humans and non-human primates, with mortality rates from 50 to 60 percent.

The World Health Organization of the United Nations states in a media center fact sheet that Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Republic of the Congo. It further states that it is named for the Ebola river in Congo where the first outbreak was.

The Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms on its website. They begin with fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, chills and weakness.

These symptoms are similar to those of a common cold or flu. Therein lies the confusion for most, yet Ebola grows increasingly severe over time and leads to more painful symptoms, according to the CDC.

These include nausea and vomiting, bloody diarrhea, raised rashes, chest pain and cough, stomach pain and severe weight loss.

Ebola is not spread by air or water. You cannot get it by being around people with it, unless you come into contact with the infected person’s skin or bodily fluids.

The CDC says good hygiene and proper hand washing are some of the best preventative measures.

No treatments or vaccines that have been scientifically proven to work are available, according to the CDC. The only treatment they recommend is keeping the patient hydrated, wait it out, and treat other infections in the patient.

The current outbreak began in March 2014 in multiple countries in West Africa. It has caused countless infections in those countries and even affected some health care workers in the United States

There is a confirmed case in Spain where the woman has fully recovered, according to the CDC.

Oct. 10 a local unnamed man on a flight from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic made a joke about having Ebola after sneezing. According to the Philadelphia International Airport, the flight was met by local officials in the Dominican Republic in hazmat suits.

No charges were filed against the man by either the Dominican Republic or the United States.

The airport has since put out a statement on Ebola preparedness.

It states that the airport will monitor and question all travelers displaying “symptoms of communicable diseases such as Ebola,” even though the airport has no direct flights from West Africa.

On Oct 27, Swissmedic approved an application for a trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine. Swissmedic is a European pharmaceutical research company with similar powers to the FDA.

In    San    Diego,    CA    Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. has used an experimental drug that has only been used on monkeys until July when it was used to save the lives of two U.S. missionaries who caught Ebola while working in Liberia.

The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy has been testing an inhaled Ebola vaccine.

“There is a desperate need for a vaccine that not only prevents the continued transmission from person to person,” said University of Texas at Austin graduate student Kristina Jonsson-Schmunk in a press release from the university.

The next round of testing on their vaccine will be on human subjects. Jonsson-Schmunk hopes the tests continue to be successful and that a cure isclose.

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