W6 Activity: Ebola In Africa

Ebola virus disease is a illness that causes decreased function of the liver and kidneys as well as internal and external bleeding. This disease has a high mortality rate, killing on average 50% of those infected often by low blood pressure due to lack of fluids. The virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids. Ebola was identifies in 1976 after outbreaks in Africa where it is still the largest ongoing epidemic in western Africa. Ebola is believed to have originally transferred to humans through primates or fruit bats. There is no FDA approved treatment of Ebola and symptoms are treated as they appear by providing fluids, balancing electrolytes, maintaining oxygen and blood pressure and treating infections as they occur.

In response to Ebola, more community health workers are being trained to deal with the illness. Additionally funding for treatment centers and scientific research are being donated and their has been an increase in humanitarian efforts. Groups such as the CDC, USAID, the White House Office of Science and Technology and the department of defense are joining forces in the US to face the challenge. Philanthropists such as Bill Gates have donated significantly to fund emergency efforts in Africa, such as for protective and medical equipment. Awareness of symptoms and transmission methods has been spread in order to create early detection of the disease in order to prevent the spreading of Ebola.

Berry Hewlett is an anthropologist who became involved with the Ebola outbreak in order to understand local customs and fears in order to encourage communities to cooperate with health care providers who are outsiders to them. He talks about the importance of social science in understanding disease control by looking at an individuals explanations and predictions regarding an illness. He studied the local people by using open ended focus group interviews as well as the use of systematic questionnaires. In his article he talked about the role of spirits and gods as well as that of the traditional women healers and how local cultures used terms to describe the evolution of Ebola from a sickness to an epidemic.

“Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease).” Centers of Disease Control And Pervention. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2 Nov. 2014. Web.

Hewlett, Berry. “Cultural Contexts of Ebola in Northern Uganda.” NCBI. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web.

“What’s Being Done to Curb the Ebola Outbreak?” Washington Global Health Allience. N.p., 4 Dec. 2014. Web.

“Why Anthropologists Join An Ebola Outbreak Team.” Shots Health News From NPR. NPR, 2 Apr. 2014. Web.

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