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When thinking about Ebola, Australia is not the first country that comes to mind. Africa and some of the other developing nations are more in line with community feelings and assumptions, and while it’s true that (particularly in the latest outbreak) Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the victims, Australia and our neighbours must be mindful of the threat – and be prepared.

What is Eboloa?What is Ebola? Ebola is a disease transmitted by one of the five Ebola virus strains. It is passed from person to person via contact; that is, you must contact an infected person’s bodily fluids (such as blood, secretions or organs). It is not possible to contract Ebola by breathing the same air as an infected person, drinking water or consuming food that has been properly prepared and cooked, from mosquitoes or from uninfected people. Ebola transmission is from touching a person or surface that has the virus on it.

Outbreaks are thought to begin with something like an infected wild animal being consumed, although the fruit bat population in the affected countries are carriers of the virus. Outbreaks occur after a person is infected by the virus and it spreads throughout a community and beyond, and unfortunately in Africa, conditions are ripe for swift transmission (poor healthcare infrastructure, poverty and ignorance, testing regimes not being adhered to and false beliefs surrounding ‘outsiders’ helping all contribute to fast and seemingly unstoppable outbreaks). There is no cure for Ebola at the present time, and it has a mortality rate of up to 80%.

The first symptoms of Ebola are very much like those of the flu: the sufferer displays a high fever, malaise and a sore throat. The viruses cause clots to form, which causes infarction. The virus also attacks collagen in connective tissue and internal organs, causing both internal and external bleeding. Sufferers pass away within days of contracting the disease, from kidney failure or blood loss, amongst other things.

But there is some good news – for every person infected with Ebola, it is estimated that they will affect only two others, much like Swine Flu. However measles, for example, can affect 18 people for every infected person. And Ebola prevention can be as simple as thoroughly cooking any bushmeat you want to consume, washing (or sanitising) your hands thoroughly and frequently, and not touching anyone or anything that may have come into contact with the virus.

If you have recently travelled to West Africa and are experiencing symptoms similar to those of Ebola, it’s best to have yourself examined as soon as possible. At 1stAvailable, you can book an appointment online at any time of the day or night. It’s a free service; you don’t have to wait until morning to make the call for an appointment. Put your mind at rest and have yourself checked out, but bear in mind most cases of flu-like symptoms in people who’ve not travelled to infected areas are just that – the flu.

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