Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone has seen its first case of Ebola. An Egyptian had traveled to Freetown from Kenema when he became ill and sought treatment. It is thought, but not as yet confirmed that he made the 190 mile trip on public transport.
“The Ebola disease usually spreads to other places when suspected or confirmed cases in one community move to another, they abandon treatment centers to stay with relatives or they seek treatment outside the Ebola centers,” Said Sidie Yahya Tunis, director of Information, Communications and Technology at the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health. (source)
888 people have contracted the disease since February and 539 people have so far died. An emergency meeting in Ghana earlier this month discussed not only how to halt the current outbreak of Ebola, but how the disease could be prevented from escaping West Africa and spreading to other parts of the world. No firm tactics for tackling the issue have so far been made public.
With 44 new cases and 21 deaths in a 48 hour period, and no travel bans in place to and from the affected areas, they need to think and think fast of how to deal with the current outbreak. If nothing is done the odds are that Ebola cases will start occurring in other parts of the world.
With an incubation time of between 2 and 21 days , though most commonly 4-9 days, the disease could be in any community on the planet for a considerable time before anyone realizes it’s there. Although widely said not to be airborne at this point airborne spread did occur in 1992:
Ebola-Reston appeared in a primate research facility in Virginia, where it may have been transmitted from monkey to monkey through the air.
While all Ebola virus species have displayed the ability to spread through airborne particles under research conditions, this type of spread has not been documented among humans in real-world settings. (source)
The fact that there was no direct contact between the primates seems to support the fact that Ebola-Reston at least is able to spread through the air.
The Ebola virus is between 800nm-100nm (nanometers) in size. In real terms this means between 1000 and 1250 Ebola virus particles can fit on an averaged sized pin head. Only between one and ten of them needs to get inside you to give you Ebola.
Ebola can be passed on via ANY bodily fluids including sweat. With the summer upon us the chances of an epidemic increases exponentially. Ebola can enter the body via the mucous membranes, that is the lining of the mouth and genitals, the inside of the nose, the eyes and the inside of the lips and mouth. It can be passed on by any type of bodily fluids getting into a cut, graze or scratch, however minor.
It is an elongated filamentous molecule, which can vary between 800 – 1000 nm in length…
1 – 10 aerosolized organisms are sufficient to cause infection in humans.
The virus can survive in liquid or dried material for a number of days (23). Infectivity is found to be stable at room temperature or at 4°C for several days, and indefinitely stable at -70°C (6, 20). Infectivity can be preserved by lyophilisation.
Think how many people you come into contact with in any three week period. Think of what you do, where you go in that 21 days. tracing contacts would be a logistical nightmare, and would in reality, be an almost impossible task. Even taking the mean average of 4-9 days for incubation tracing ALL contacts could prove extremely difficult, particularly if you are trying to trace the contacts of dozens of people at the same time.
If this outbreak is not contained it’s not a matter of if it goes global, it’s a matter of when.