Photo: Getty Images
By Marc Inocencio
A deadly virus known as Ebola is plaguing Africa at an alarming rate and has reached reported regions including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
To obtain more clarity on the outbreak, On Air with Ryan Seacrest dialed in CNNâs chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is also a practicing neurosurgeon at the Emory University School of Medicine.
âThis is one of those things thatâs unfolding real-time,â he says. âWhat weâre witnessing here is something thatâs never happened before â and how many times do you get to say that? In this case, you know, I think you can understand that it sparks a lot of concerns, even fear, but I think sometimes a vacuum of knowledge worsens that fear. Weâve trying to fill that vacuum.â
According to CNN, there have been over 1,323 reported cases and some 729 deaths linked to Ebola. Health experts at the Council on Foreign Relations described this phenomena as âout of control.â
âThis is the worst Ebola epidemic weâve ever seen, and part of it is that, you know, just when you look at that map, in the past, thereâs been, you know, significant outbreaks, but theyâve usually had a particular center and you could find that center and you could trace the outbreak,â Dr. Gupta says. âWhat has happened here, Ryan, is that youâve had several simultaneous outbreaks, and thatâs made it really hard to contain.â
Two American health workers, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol â who were working at an Ebola treatment center in Liberia â were both diagnosed with the fatal virus and flown to Atlanta for treatment, CNN reports. If the outbreak becomes a global health crisis, containment protocol will call tighter border control in African countries and demand a rise in vaccine development, Los Angeles Times reports.
âIf you look at the globalized world in which we live, I think itâs almost inevitable that youâre going to have people who have been exposed to Ebola who then get on a plane and travel around the world to the United States, to Great Britain, to lots of other countries,â he explains. âThe good news part of it is, that the idea that it will turn to these outbreaks in the United States or in lots of other countries I think is very unlikely.â
The incubation for the virus is two to 21 days and is spread through the direct contact of blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. Several on-set symptoms include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, and weakness, which ultimately escalates to viral hemorrhagic fevers.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for Ebola, but biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. has manufactured a âsecret serumâ known as ZMapp. According to CNN, the drug was given to both Brantly and Writebol, even though both patients were aware that the little-known treatment â required to be frozen at subzero temperature â have never been conducted on humans.
After administering the serum, both Brantly and Writebol showed miraculous health improvements the following day. The administration of ZMapp on the patients was âunusual,â according to CNN. Before the drug can be mass-produced, it must undergo a trial process to ensure safety and success on the recipient.
For Dr. Guptaâs full coverage on the Ebola outbreak, head over to CNN.com and check out his medical news show, Sanjay Gupta MD. Click here to check your local listings.