As the Ebola Virus was becoming mainstream news, this August we published a blog reviewing the facts about what was then a little known disease in the Western world (ref. 1).
At the time we quoted The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, who said that: “This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.” (Ref. 2).
Was she correct? This blog looks at the situation today with Ebola, and how you can help to prevent your exposure to it.
The Status at the end of September 2014
The most accurate summary of the Ebola situation is seen in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (ref. 2). It provides an analysis of the first nine months of the Ebola outbreak by a panel of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are the key findings:
- From a total of 5,864 confirmed and probable cases, 2,811 deaths have resulted. According to the experts, inadequate reporting means that "The true numbers of cases and deaths are certainly higher”.
- Most of the cases and deaths are in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a few in Nigeria and Senegal.
- The majority of Ebola patients are 15 to 44 years old, with 32 being the average age of victims.
- Men and women are infected at a nearly equal rate (men: 49.9%, women: 50.1%)
- The confirmed case fatality rate is 70.8%. For those who are hospitalised there is a 64.3% chance of death.
- The most common symptoms reported by patients include fever (87.1%), fatigue (76.4%), loss of appetite (64.5%), vomiting (67.6%), diarrhoea (65.6%), headache (53.4%), and abdominal pain (44.3%).
The Pessimistic View
In addition to the above figures, the WHO experts believe that the outbreak is rapidly accelerating with700 more Ebola cases emerging in West Africa in the past week. They say that because of poor medical and health care infrastructure, and inadequate personal hygiene measures: "The current epidemiologic outlook is bleak…."We must therefore face the possibility that Ebola virus disease will become endemic among the human population of West Africa, a prospect that has never previously been contemplated."
In the absence of new disease control measures, the WHO experts estimate that the total case load would exceed 20,000 by Nov 2014. In contrast, the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said that “If the spread of Ebola goes unchecked, there could be 1.4m cases by late January 2015” (ref. 4)
Echoing this ominous outlook, the UN Security Council recently declared that Ebola is a "threat to international peace and security". It called on all states to provide urgent resources to help tackle the crisis.
The Optimistic View
Some questioned the CDC’s pessimistic projection. For example, Dr Armand Sprecher, an infectious disease specialist at Doctors Without Borders said: “It’s a big assumption that nothing will change in the current outbreak response. The outbreak won’t end tomorrow, but things can be done to reduce the case count.”
As an example, of what can be done, outbreaks in both Nigeria and Senegal “Appear to be contained”, according to the WHO (ref. 5). It seems this was achieved by very quick and close monitoring and treatment of any suspected and actual cases.
The point is, if countries like Nigeria and Senegal, with poor health care systems can successfully manage Ebola, one might reasonably expect that Western countries will do it even more effectively if necessary.
Indeed, according to a report by CNN (ref. 6), the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) claim: “There is no significant risk" of an Ebola outbreak in the United States or other developed countries. This is reiterated by Kamiliny Kalahne, an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders who says: “People generally transmit the infection when they are very sick, have a high fever and a lot of symptoms -- and in these situations, they don't travel. Even if they do get sick once they travel to a developed country, they will be in a good hospital with good infection control, so they are very unlikely to infect others.”
This appears to be the case currently with an individual who travelled from the US to Liberia. He returned to the US and appears to have developed Ebola symptoms. This led to his hospitalisation and specialist treatment in Dallas (ref.8).
What Can You Do to Prevent Your Exposure to Ebola?
To remind you, Ebola is an acute viral disease which may disarm your immune system if it is already not optimal. This means that the severity of the virus’s impact on each individual who becomes infected, is likely to be heavily determined by the immune and general health of that person and their ability to fight disease.
To boost your immune and general health, there are several ways to minimize the risk of catching and spreading the virus. These include avoiding obvious risk factors, and building a strong immune system.
Avoid obvious risk factors
Avoid known risk factors such as:
- Travel to infected areas
- Close contact with infected people, particularly with their bodily fluids.
- No use of protective clothing / equipment when caring for infected people at home.
- Poor general hygiene (like not washing hands regularly)
Build a strong immune system and robust general health
Your immune system is under constant attack from the millions of bacteria and viruses you may be exposed to daily. To protect it and reduce free radical damage, you need to proactively minimize your exposure to such ‘invaders’. These may result from eating processed foods, exposure to environmental toxins, smoking, alcohol, drugs and stress. Simultaneously, ensure you enjoy regular, varied exercise, sunshine exposure, quality sleep, and plenty of nutrient and anti-oxidant dense foods.
To help compensate for the possible inadequacies in your diet and lifestyle, and to strengthen your immune system, you may also wish to consider the following daily supplement Protocol (ref. 8)
We hope that this information on Ebola helps to put things in perspective, and to assure you that you can do a lot to minimize risk. Of course, if you have any concerns about about your health, always consult with your medical practitioner.
1. For our original article on ‘Ebola – the Facts’, please see: http://www.xtend-life.com/news-blog/article/blog/2014/08/20/ebola-the-facts
2. Media reports of the WHO perspective in early august 2014
3. The most accurate summary of the Ebola situation is seen in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1411100
4. The Guardian reports the CDC’s projections for Ebola
5. WHO reports that Nigeria and Senegal appear to have contained Ebola
6. CNN reports the CDC’s view on the risk of Ebola spreading outside Africa http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/29/health/ebola-outbreak-american-dies/
7. For a report on the Dallas Ebola patient, see: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/09/30/cdc-confirms-patient-in-dallas-has-the-ebola-virus/