The media has been all over the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and with the death toll recently reported at over 900 it's safe to say that most of us are a tad worried. Health officials say that the virus acts like the flu, causing fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea, but they're not telling you the whole truth.
Think you can handle it?
The Huffington Post recently posted a detailed article on what exactly happens when a person contracts this deadly virus, from exposure to death (or survival, but the survival rate at this point is only about 40%).
They say it takes up to two weeks from the day you are exposed to the first sign of any symptoms. And exposure doesn't mean that someone who is already infected sneezes on you. It means that their infected fluids - like blood, vomit, diarrhea, etc. - gets inside you via an open wound, mouth, eyes, or nose. (Or in some cases, if an animal is infected with the virus and bites you.)
Early symptoms include: fever, headaches, nausea, and extreme fatigue. On the outside it looks like your average flu, but on the inside the virus is working hard to destroy you. The virus gets inside your cells, replicates, and quoting from the article directly, "[bursts] out of [y]our cells and produces this protein that wreaks havoc." The cells explode, leaking blood and molecules that trigger an inflammatory response. This causes the flu-like symptoms.
Around this time, patients start to experience vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and low blood pressure. At this point, the virus has prevented your cells and blood from repairing and coagulating, which basically means you're liquefying from the inside out.
At this point, patients who survive this terrible ordeal don't remember much. They are now experiencing confusion, bruising, and internal and external bleeding through the gums, eyes, nose, ears, and other orfaces in at least 20% of cases. Blood can also appear in the patients vomit or diarrhea. Cells are bursting at rapid speed, and organs start to shut down. Patients usually slip into a coma.
If a patient is to die, it's usually from organ failure or shock from the loss of blood. If the patient is to live, it takes months for them to recover and regain their strength.
The Ebola Virus is listed as a biosafety level 4 virus according to the CDC, which means extreme caution must be taken when handling patients or animals who are infected. (I mean, the levels only go up to 4. Just sayin'.)
Officials are now taking extreme measures - because they totally didn't take this seriously before - to make sure this outbreak is contained and taken care of, so they say we have nothing to worry about.
If you're really curious, you can Google Image search it. I dare you.
I don't know about you, but I'm going to channel Kuzco from the Emperor's New Groove and approach this situation with a "no touchy" state of mind.