Anyone watching the news out of West Africa can’t help but be blown away by tragedy unfolding there: More than 1,300 people in three countries and a death toll now topping 720 people, all from a single, highly contagious and deadly Ebola virus.
The current West Africa outbreak started in Guinea in March, and within days the virus spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. It’s the biggest outbreak ever of Ebola, and two American health care workers are now among the seriously ill. One man, an American, died in Nigeria after visiting the region.
The devastating disease carries a fatality rate of anywhere from 50 to 90 percent depending on the strain and on where the outbreak is. It has no vaccine and no specific treatment. The only glimmer of hope comes from early intervention with intravenous saline solution, which has raised survival rates to as high as 75 percent in one small clinic in Guinea.
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Chikungunya Arrives in Douglas County
The first case of the mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya has been confirmed in Douglas County. Lab tests confirmed the infection, Nebraska’s fourth known case.
The 50-year-old patient became ill after being bit by an infected mosquito during a recent trip to Puerto Rico. Chikungunya has been found in the Caribbean, on islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Africa, Asia, Europe and in countries and territories in Central and South America. According to the CDC, only two cases of chikungunya have been contracted from mosquitos on the U.S. mainland. Both cases were in Florida.
“Preventing chikungunya while traveling starts with the same steps you use to avoid mosquito bites here at home,” said Dr. Rudolf Kotula, Methodist Physicians Clinic infectious disease specialist. “If you plan to travel to an area where the infection is prevalent, our Methodist Physicians Clinic travel clinic can provide you with personalized health information such as how to prevent mosquito bites, to help ensure that health issues don’t take a bite out of your trip’s fun.”
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