Is Ebola Back?
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Ebola Isn't Curable, but Here's Why You Shouldn't Panic

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It goes without saying that 2020 has been like something from an (apocalyptic) movie, between the coronavirus, murder hornets, and now, rumors that the Ebola virus is back with a vengeance.

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Before we dive into the merit of those claims, let’s talk about what the Ebola virus really is — other than something that is thought to be transmitted by mosquitoes. 

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What is Ebola, exactly?

According to the CDC, Ebola — or Ebola virus disease (sometimes referred to as EVD) — is a rare or severe disease with occasional outbreaks that occur primarily in Africa. It mainly affects humans as well as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees.

It may surprise you that there isn’t just one Ebola virus. There are actually six variations that can lead to infection through blood, bodily fluid, or tissue. But only four of the six are proven to infect people.

Symptoms vary per patient and can appear anywhere from two to 21 days after contact with the virus.

Scientists don’t know exactly where it comes from, but it’s thought to be animal-borne. Ebola is thought to come from infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates (such as apes and monkeys), and according to the Mayo Clinic, there is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit the disease. 

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So, is the Ebola virus back in 2020?

Yes, it is back in Africa, with cases on the rise in Congo’s northeast since 2018. The number of cases has surged since April 2020, which is why the topic is making headlines around the world. 

There have been more than 3,000 deaths recorded so far, making it the second biggest outbreak in history.

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This falls only behind the 2014 - 2016 West African outbreak in terms of the most lethal, as independent medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières reports in its May 2020 crisis update. 

That outbreak is said to have killed more than 11,000 people.

Does Ebola have a cure?

Awareness is key, because the earlier the disease is caught, the higher the patient’s chances of survival. Ebola has a “fatality rate of anywhere between 25% and 90%, depending on the outbreak,” as CNN shares.

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There is no cure for Ebola, but a vaccine is in development, with a 97.5% success rate in a trial of 170,000 people.

While it's not yet commercially available, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to vaccinate everyone who came in contact with patients confirmed to have Ebola.

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“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] for over 18 months,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”

It’s important to remember that ebola is rare.

Ebola typically affects fewer than 500 people each year, and no cases were reported at all between 1979 and 1994, the BBC reports.

To put that figure into perspective, there are more than 275,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women a year, and about 48,000 non-invasive cases. 

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The bottom line is that it’s important to be aware and stay informed on the latest developments, and understand where the highest risks are present. Remember that scientists and medical experts around the world are making progress toward safeguarding people around the world.

Our hearts are with everyone fighting this disease, and fighting to find a cure. 

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