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What is Ebola?
Ebola is a virus disease (EVD) which is often fatal in humans. The disease was first identified in 1976 when two simultaneous outbreaks took place in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is believed that the virus originated from wild animals.
Symptoms of the disease include diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, stomach pain and impaired kidney and liver function. This then leads to internal bleeding, as well as bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
What is the Extent of the Current Outbreak?
There are three countries at the centre of the 2014 Ebola outbreak: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. These countries are all recovering from recent conflict, and lack the resources and infrastructure to effectively tackle the epidemic. The global death toll has exceeded 5,000, and over 14,000 cases of infection reported. This makes this the biggest ever outbreak of the virus.
Is there a cure for Ebola?
There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for the virus. There are, however, two potential vaccines undergoing tests. If identified early, prompt medical attention with rehydration and symptomatic treatment can improve an infected individual's chances of survival.
What can be done to prevent the spread of Ebola?
Ebola is spread via human to human contact, and thus it is crucial to engage and educate communities in order to successfully control outbreaks. This involves applying a package of interventions, including case management, close observation and contact tracing. Good laboratories, safe burials and social mobilisation are also vital.
Governments and NGOs, including Muslim Aid, are supporting efforts to contain the virus and help treat its victims.