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With the World Health Organization (WHO) recently naming
in West Africa an international public health emergency,
speculation about the virus has run wild on the Internet and in
Ebola is a virus that causes Ebola virus disease, which can have a
fatality rate as high as 90 percent, reports the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus's origins are
unknown, but scientists have speculated that outbreaks usually
begin with infected animals like monkeys.
Despite numerous official statements from WHO, the CDC and other
health organizations, there are many misconceptions about Ebola.
The following are some of those misconceptions.
Ebola Is Airborne
Despite what doomsday forecasters may say, you can't get Ebola from
the air — or water or food, for that matter.
The only way to contract Ebola is by coming in contact with
infected bodily fluids, the CDC reports. Bodily fluids that can
spread the Ebola virus include blood, saliva and urine.
If an object like a needle or other medical instrument has been
exposed to an Ebola patient's bodily fluids, that object can also
spread the virus.
Even physical contact won't spread Ebola as long as the uninfected
person doesn't come into contact with the infected person's bodily
Recommended Ebola prevention methods are similar to those of many
other viruses — wash your hands regularly and don't touch an
Infected People Spray Blood
The former name of Ebola virus disease was Ebola hemorrhagic
Hemorrhaging (veins or arteries rupturing and bleeding) evokes a
nightmarish image of blood spraying from every orifice — which may
be why TV and movies portray Ebola like this so often.
While Ebola is certainly deadly, external bleeding only happens in
some Ebola cases, according to WHO. And blood doesn't spray from
infected patients' bodies.
Visible Ebola symptoms include a sudden, acute fever, vomiting and
diarrhea. Medical testing can reveal less visible symptoms like
kidney and liver damage and a lowered white blood cell count.
Bringing Infected Americans Back for Treatment Will Cause an
When a man with high fever who had recently visited West Africa
stepped through the doors of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City,
fears of an Ebola outbreak in the US ran high.
Mount Sinai has since announced that the man did not have Ebola,
but the two American health care workers in Africa who recently
returned to the US for treatment did — and their return sparked
some debate about the safety of purposefully bringing the virus
into the country.
As of publication time, though, the American patients were alive.
Ebola may not be as fatal as it once was, said Donald Allegra, MD,
chair of Infection Control and Pharmacy/Therapeutics at Newton
Medical Center in Newton, NJ.
"It was previously thought that this disease was almost universally
fatal but now with our two Americans in Atlanta doing better and
only about 55 percent mortality overall, significant numbers of
patients are surviving and it would be interesting to know what the
factors are that are helping many patients to survive," Dr. Allegra
told dailyRx News.
While an outbreak could technically happen anywhere, it's less
likely in the US than in developing nations like Sierra Leone and
Liberia, said Dr. Daniel Bausch in an interview with Voice of
Many of the hospitals in the heart of the Ebola outbreak area —
including West African countries Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and
Nigeria — are stretched too thin when it comes to medical supplies,
medicines and health care workers, making containment of the virus
In contrast, the man at Mount Sinai Hospital was immediately put
into quarantine and under constant medical care until he was
Ebola Is Curable
Currently, there is no vaccination or cure for Ebola. Despite this
fact, rumors and myths about Ebola cures abound.
WHO lists a few practices that have been falsely labeled as cures
for Ebola. These include eating raw onions, drinking condensed milk
and taking antibiotics, which fight bacteria, not viruses like
One treatment, however, is showing some promise, but its
effectiveness has not been confirmed. The medicine is known as
ZMapp, and it is supposed to block Ebola from spreading in the
Before the two American Ebola patients opted for the experimental
treatment, the only tests researchers had conducted with it were on
Ebola Has Spread to the US
Although CDC officials believe Ebola spreading to the US is likely
in the future, they also say it will not be a large outbreak. CDC
Director Tom Frieden cited airline travel as the culprit in the
spread of the virus across continents.
"We are all connected and inevitably there will be travelers,
American citizens and others who go from [West Africa] and are here
with symptoms," he told Business Insider. "But we are confident
that there will not be a large Ebola outbreak in the US."
However, the only American to have died from Ebola in the current
outbreak so far was in West Africa at the time of his
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