Ebola is a highly contagious viral disease with an incubation period of up to 21 days. The disease is transmitted via body fluids such as blood, sweat, saliva or tears. Those caring for sufferers are therefore susceptible to the Ebola virus, which can spread to health staff and family members.
There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which means there is no drug to kill the Ebola virus. However, people can be given pain relief, fluids to keep them comfortable, treatment for secondary infections, and can also receive visits from relatives to keep their spirits up. These measures have been shown to help patients fight the infection.
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Emergency response in West Africa
The Ebola outbreak that first occurred in Guinea in March this year has claimed hundreds of lives. Médecins Sans Frontières is working to support local health authorities in the three countries, treating patients and putting measures in place to contain the epidemic.
"Currently we have a 120 bed treatment centre - the largest ever - and I'm training 60 staff a day to build capacity for the planned 400 bed treatment centre, it wasn't that long ago that there were only 6 of us here." - Brett Adamson, Médecins Sans Frontières project coordinator, Liberia.