A plague has spread throughout South and West Africa killing more than 11,300 humans. This is the largest epidemic ever recorded. This plague has caused psychological and psychosocial effects on survivors, carers, and contacts. It has caused dreadful symptoms among the contaminated, and it has lead to the unpleasant deaths of thousands of children and adults. This plague is Ebola.
In 1976, Ebola had its first outbreak in Zaire, Africa, near the Ebola River. Its second outbreak took place in South Sudan, just a few hundred miles away from Zaire. The virus most likely spread due to a person unknowingly carrying the virus or an animal , traveling to different parts of Africa contaminating others. But how did the first person get infected? After discovering the virus, scientist examined multiple animals, plants, insects in search for where the virus routed from. After many trials and errors, scientist believed bats where the reservoir host. Many people in africa sell bushmeat; meat from wild animals, in the markets for other people to buy and eat. Before selling the bat, they cut off its’ wings and rap the rest of it in paper.
A man bought a bat and unknowingly rubbed his eye with a finger that had the bats blood on it; this created a way for the ebola virus to enter his body. A few hours has passed by before he began getting symptoms. When help was on the way, he had already died a painful death. His symptoms consisted of Fever, Severe headache, Muscle pain,Weakness, Fatigue, Diarrhea, Vomiting, stomach pain, and Unexplained bleeding and bruising. Not only did he suffer but so did many others who bought bats at the market. Not only did they feel physical pain, but if they did survive they were affected psychosocially and psychologically, as well as those who took care of them and came in contact with them. Those who were contaminated where affected psychologically in the way that they began to think about and fear death, also in the way that they witnessed other dying all around them. They were also affected psychosocially in the way that they began to feel shameful because their community made them feel as if it was their fault others were dying because they spread the disease. They felt rejected by those who did not want to talk or be with them anymore. They also felt that they did something wrong to deserve their sickness due to their cultural beliefs.
Those who used to be in contact with the infected all the time were also affected even if they did not catch the virus. Since the virus is transmitted through direct contact, they could not go anywhere near them , which caused them to feel completely helpless while their loved one was slowly dying. Then feeling sadness and grief once their loved one had died. Even after death, they could not come into contact with their loved one. They could not even give them a proper burial to give them their final goodbyes. Those who take care of the sick also experience psychological pain. They witness people suffering and dying everyday. They feel it is their responsibility to keep this person alive and when they die they feel guilt. Witnessing so many painful deaths leads them into depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, frustration and anger. But those who take care of them still understand that it is up to the medication and vaccines to do the rest of the work.
How do scientist even make medication and vaccines for Ebola? What is the science behind the virus?
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