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The Ebola Outbreak: What Every American Needs To Know

This year has quickly become the year of the Ebola virus.

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa has begun attracting attention in the U.S. for good reason.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that the chances of the virus spreading to the U.S. are low, it doesn't change how fast it is spreading.

A Fatal Disease

Ebola virus disease is fatal for humans, with a 50 to 90 percent fatality rate. So far, the epidemic in West Africa has killed about 4,800 people. In the United States, a Liberian man who traveled to Dallas fell ill and later died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified symptoms of the virus as being influenza-like, including a sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is usually followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

Transmission of the virus has been linked to close contact with the bodily fluids of infected animals, specifically fruit bats which can carry the virus and still be unaffected by it. Once infected, a human can also infect another human through the same close contact of bodily fluids, including blood and semen.

Currently, there is no remedy or vaccine for the virus.

The Current Spread

Discovered in 1976, the Ebola virus has remained a concern to Central and West African countries, but 2014 is the year in which the largest outbreak of the virus occurred, prompting Liberia to warn of a "global pandemic."

In February 2014, an Ebola virus outbreak took place in Guinea and soon spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, becoming a full-fledged epidemic in Africa.

Since then, the president of Sierra Leone has declared a public health emergency for the country, the U.S. Peace Corps. has pulled all 340 volunteers from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, and experts are predicting that there's a "reasonable chance" a person carrying the Ebola virus could step onto American soil.

Needless to say, the panic caused by this deadly disease has become a real concern for not only Africa, but the world.

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