What is Ebola?
Ebola is a deadly infectious disease. First discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo along the Ebola river, its origin is unproven. What we do know is that it spreads quickly and can a devastating impact on communities and families.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Ebola can vary. Early symptoms can include, a sudden fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. While the early stages can be similar to a serious flu, the patient’s condition swiftly worsens. As the disease matures, the patient can develop vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and eventually bleeding, both internally and externally. The cause of death in fatal cases is most often, organ failure and dehydration.
How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread by touch. It is not an airborne disease. It is contracted through direct contact with an infected person and their mouth, nose or bodily fluids. The disease can also be spread through contact with contaminated items like clothing and bed sheets. This can only happen through broken skin.
As it spreads by touch, this puts care givers like parents and medical staff in real danger of infection.
Ebola like all diseases has a life-cycle. A person can be sick with Ebola for up to 21 days before showing symptoms of the disease. A person only becomes infectious when their symptoms begin to show. After they recover a person can be infectious for up to seven weeks.
How can Ebola be treated?
Unfortunately, there is no proven cure for Ebola. Treatment by trained medical staff greatly improves the patient’s chance of survival. Patients need to be quickly re-hydrated with intravenous fluids. As new symptoms arise they must be treated quickly. If patients do not receive this level of care, the disease is most often fatal.
Patients also need to be isolated while they receive their intensive medical care. This is for the good of the patient and to stop the spread of the disease.
What Countries have Ebola Outbreaks?
Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (DRC), is facing its largest outbreak of Ebola ever. Over 1000 cases are reported in the east of the country. This outbreak is disproportionately affecting women and children.
What is happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
Since August 2018, an Ebola epidemic has been raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This 10th epidemic is the largest the country has ever seen with over 1,000 confirmed cases. 262 of these cases are children. Also, there are over 1500 children who have lost their parents, care givers and/or families.
Already the largest outbreak the DRC has ever seen, the epidemic is growing worse. More confirmed cases are being recorded each day. And the rate of cases is also increasing. With little functioning medical care in affected region, the disease is proving difficult to treat and to contain.
How is UNICEF helping to prevent the spread of Ebola in the DRC?
Like all emergencies, children in the DRC are the worst affected by the Ebola epidemic. Children now account for more than one third of the confirmed Ebola cases.
To help these children, more than 650 UNICEF and partner staff are working to help those affected. Teams are also working to help affected families, and to prevent the spread of the disease. They are supplying emergency food, clean water and sanitation. They are also making public spaces safe, and ensuring communities know how to protect themselves from Ebola.
The impact of the disease on children goes beyond those who have contracted it. When parents or caregivers with the disease go for treatment or even pass away, children can be all alone. UNICEF is providing a protective space for these children in schools. They are also receiving emergency supplies of food, water and medicine. Most importantly, they are receiving psycho-social support to help them deal with their new situation.
UNICEF is scaling its response to this deadly epidemic. However, efforts face huge challenges. Conflict, instability in the region and a severe lack of funding are preventing children from getting the support they need.
Please donate today to help children and families dealing with this disease and its life changing consequences.