As of Oct. 25, 10,114 cases of Ebola have been reported and of those 4,912 have died, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Amber Reed Joyce
The current outbreak is more deadly than all previous outbreaks combined.
Zaire is the strand of Ebola that is responsible for current outbreak, and it has a high mortality rate. According to the CDC, Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, much like how HIV is transferred.
Symptoms of Ebola include fever, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, rash and bleeding, both internal and external, according to the World Health Organization. The virus can remain in the body after an infected person has died, which puts mortuary workers at risk of infection as well. Treatment of the symptoms improves survival rates, but does not promise it.
The testing used for identification of Ebola is molecular in nature. A patient with Ebola may not have detectable levels of the virus until three days after the onset of symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish between other diseases or viruses with similar symptoms.
Carlo Ledesma, Clinical Laboratory Technology program director and hematology specialist, said “ineffective screenings and CDC protocol being breeched” are to blame for the spread of Ebola.
The CDC has been reaching out to health care providers in an attempt to educate them by “hosting webinars, conference calls and even Twitter Q&A events,” said Brenna Argo, Core Lab Manager at Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma
Graphic courtesy of MCTCampus.comHospitals and airports around the world, are taking steps to stop the spread of infection.
“We have been told personal protective equipment is key,” Argo said. “Gown, gloves and masks are essential.”
“The capability to control [Ebola] is there if effective measures are put in place,” Ledesma said.
Lab testing is a critical part of diagnosis and great care is taken when testing and transporting a specimen. CDC.gov is saturated with information from how to transport an infected specimen to how to handle infected remains. The types of samples that can be taken and the tests that can be done verify the diagnosis is also listed on the site.
“If we can’t identify the risk immediately, the population and the lab is at risk,” Argo said.
To spread efficiently in a first world country would be a daunting task for Ebola. Most people have access to clean water and soap and there are a number of educational outlets to inform the public about Ebola.
“Everyone needs to calm down, I know that. More people are going to die from the flu this year and I don’t see anyone freaking out about that,” said Dani Andrew, a CLT student at RSC.