With news of the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa, it's no surprise that many are concerned about the possibility of it spreading to different parts of the world. The Ebola virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids that have been contaminated, and its severity gives cause for alarm, as it is often fatal. It is important to be aware of the symptoms in order to be able to distinguish Ebola from similar conditions.
The Ebola virus, also referred to as hemorrhagic fever, cannot be identified until you actually exhibit symptoms. Symptoms of Ebola include:
- Extreme abdominal pain
- Dangerously high fever
- Pain in the muscles
- Sudden weakness
- Sore throat
- Evidence of hemorrhaging, both internally and externally
- Severe headache
Victims of the Ebola virus generally become ill within 10 days after exposure. However, symptoms could appear in as little as two days or as late as 21 days after initial contact with infected bodily fluids.
Conditions with Similar Symptoms
Illnesses that exhibit similar symptoms to the Ebola virus are classified as hemorrhagic fevers. Some of the most common illnesses include cholera and malaria, while there are other, rare viruses that fall into this category. In order to receive a proper diagnosis, blood tests are necessary. Individuals can only be tested for the illness once symptoms have actually appeared. In addition to hemorrhagic fevers that cause similar symptoms, people may first mistake their symptoms for food poisoning, the flu, or a severe virus involving the intestinal tract. It is the appearance of hemorrhaging that separates Ebola from other illnesses that affect the digestive system.
The only way that you are likely to become infected with Ebola yourself is if you have come within contact with someone who has Ebola. Regardless, if you are experiencing symptoms of the illness, the first thing you should do is contact a health care provider immediately. From that point, you'll most likely be transported to a hospital where you will be placed under quarantine. Testing will be necessary for a proper diagnosis and you will require intensive care. The main goal is to supply you with fluids and medications to keep your body hydrated and ease your pain. Blood platelets are often recommended as well in order to deal with hemorrhaging. The Ebola virus does not have a vaccine or a cure. Medications used to treat other hemorrhagic fevers are not as effective for the Ebola virus. Your best chances for a positive outcome are a strong immune system, care from early onset, and keeping your body from going into shock.