Ebola spreading like a wildfire

A recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has killed over two thousand people since last winter.

March of this year was when the Ebola outbreak was first identified in Guinea. Since then it has spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal.

The Ebola Virus was first discovered in Southern Sudan in 1976. The virus starts out with common flu symptoms, but usually ends up killing the victim quickly due to hemorrhaging.  There have been several outbreaks since 1976, but the outbreak this year is the worst in history.

Fruit Bats are the most common carriers of the virus. Humans can acquire the virus from the bats through their saliva. The bats saliva is often found on fruits, which people then eat and ingest the virus.

Ingesting bat’s saliva isn’t the only way that humans can contract the virus from bats. In West Africa it is common for the citizens to eat “Bushmeat”. This is a combination of Fruit Bat and monkey meat which serves as a good source of protein and nutrition for them. This common meal has contributed greatly to the outbreak of Ebola.

Now that the Ebola virus has been contracted by humans in West Africa, it is spreading profusely. The virus can be spread through saliva, blood, and just through touching an affected victim.

One reason why it is spreading so fast in West Africa is because of many of the tribes death rituals. It is common that after a person of their tribe has died the tribe removes their fingernails, toenails, and hair. They also wash them and prepare them for their funerals.

These rituals include lots of physical contact with the infected person which leads to the spreading of the virus to their tribe members. These rituals are a part of the tribes culture, and they feel they are necessary to perform, even when advised not to in order to avoid contracting the Ebola virus.

As this virus has become a major issue in West Africa many health professionals have made their way there to help the victims, including the organization, Doctors Without Borders.

These volunteers have the difficult task of trying to work with the victim’s family to help them from being infected, but they also have to respect their spiritual and religious beliefs.

Mrs. Perusso, a world history, philosophy, and avid teacher here at Monte Vista explains the dilemmas of respecting West African’s rituals, or ignoring them.

“It’s an ethical question. I think it goes beyond just the ritual at death. Whether or not governments have the right to quarantine anybody. It is an ethical dilemma, but I think weighing an ethical dilemma like that you have to ask yourself whether the rights of an individual are paramount, whether the rights of a group are paramount, or whether the rights of society at large are paramount. And I would say in a situation as dire as the one with Ebola, it is the society as a whole whose rights trump everybody else’s,” Mrs. Perusso said.

Sophomore Sierra Taylor also agrees that the government should isolate Ebola victims in order to stop if from spreading.

“Yes, I believe the African Government’s number one priority should be to contain the outbreak of Ebola,” Taylor said.

Several victims of the Ebola virus have been transported to other countries to be treated, or fled themselves, including Thomas Duncan.

Thomas Duncan of Liberia was brought  to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital September 28 due to Ebola symptoms. He was in Liberia before that and was exposed to a women who had the virus.  He was soon diagnosed with Ebola and put into isolation while receiving medical care.

Duncan died just ten days later on the morning of October 8.

“He fought courageously in this battle,” the hospital said.

So far there is no vaccine for the Ebola virus, but proper sanitation does reduce the likeliness of it spreading. With this sudden and large outbreak of the virus many researchers are working quickly to try to find a cure for it, and end this devastation in Africa.