Between March 22-24, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following
Flash messages to subscriber mobile devices:
Canadian health auth rpt possible Ebola case in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Individual fell ill after plane travel from Liberia, West Africa. Monitoring.
On multiple occasions this week, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (view map). The three countries share common borders, with most of the cases appearing in the tri-border region. As of the time of this report’s preparation on Friday evening, 103 cases have been reported in Guinea alone, an increase of 17 cases in a 48 hour period. Four cases were confirmed in the capital of Conakry.
In Sierra Leone, health authorities report six suspected cases with five suspected deaths attributed to the virus.
In Liberia, the Ministry of Health reports six suspected cases of the viral hemorrhagic fever and five deaths.
U.S. embassies in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been warning American citizens of the outbreak, the need to avoid all contact with individuals showing any of the symptoms and the importance of registering in the State Departments Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Why is this of any concern to AlertsUSA subscribers?
First, tens of thousands of Americans travel to West Africa annually, and in particular, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Next, Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses known to exist on the planet. Outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%. The virus is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes. There is no known treatment or vaccine.
The following is a graphic, real-life description of the terrifying effects of Ebola, excerpted from the acclaimed novel, The Hot Zone:
On the seventh day after his New Year’s visit to Kitum cave-January 8, 1980-Monet felt a throbbing pain behind his eyeballs. He decided to stay home from work and went to bed in his bungalow. The headache grew worse. His eyeballs ached, and then his temples began to ache, the pain seeming to circle around inside his head. It would not go away with aspirin, and then he got a severe backache. His housekeeper, Johnnie, was still on her Christmas vacation, and he had recently hired a temporary housekeeper. She tried to take care of him, but she really didn’t know what to do. Then, on the third day after his headache started, he became nauseated, spiked a fever, and began to vomit. His vomiting grew intense and turned into dry heaves. At the same time, he became strangely passive. His face lost all appearance of life and set itself into an expressionless mask, with the eyeballs fixed, paralytic, and staring. The eyelids were slightly droopy, which gave him a peculiar appearance, as if his eyes were popping out of his head and half closed at the same time. The eyeballs themselves seemed almost frozen in their sockets, and they turned bright red. The skin of his face turned yellowish, with a brilliant starlike red speckles. He began to look like a zombie. His appearance frightened the temporary housekeeper. She didn’t understand the transformation in this man. His personality changed. He became sullen, resentful, angry, and his memory seemed to be blown away. He was not delirious. He could answer questions, although he didn’t seem to know exactly where he was.
When Monet failed to show up for work, his colleagues began to wonder about him, and eventually they went to his bungalow to see if he was all right. The black-and-white crow sat on the roof and watched them as they went inside. They looked at Monet and decided that he needed to get to a hospital. Since he was very unwell and no longer able to drive a car, one of his co-workers drove him to a private hospital in the city of Kisumu, on the shore of Lake Victoria. The doctors at the hospital examined Monet, and could not come up with any explanation for what had happened to his eyes or his face or his mind. Thinking that he might have some kind of bacterial infection, they gave him injections of antibiotics, but the antibiotics had no effect on his illness.
He is holding an airsickness bag over his mouth. He coughs a deep cough and regurgitates something into the bag. The bag swells up. Perhaps he glances around, and then you see that his lips are smeared with something slippery and red, mixed with black specks, as if he has been chewing coffee grounds. His eyes are the color of rubies, and his face is an expressionless mass of bruises. The red spots, which a few days before had started out as starlike speckles, have expanded and merged into huge, spontaneous purple shadows: his whole head is turning black-and-blue. The muscles of his face droop. The connective tissue in his face is dissolving, and his face appears to hang from the underlying bone, as if the face is detaching itself from the skull. He opens his mouth and gasps into the bag, and the vomiting goes on endlessly. It will not stop, and he keeps bringing up liquid, long after his stomach should have been empty. The airsickness bag fills up to the brim with a substance know as the vomito negro, or the black vomit. The black vomit is not really black; it is a speckled liquid of two colors, black and red, a stew of tarry granules mixed with fresh red arterial blood. It is hemorrhage, and it smells like a slaughterhouse. The black vomit is loaded with virus. It is highly infective, lethally hot, a liquid that would scare the daylights out of a military biohazard specialist. The smell of the vomito negro fills the passenger cabin. The airsickness bag is brimming with black vomit, so Monet closes the bag and rolls up the top. The bag is bulging and softening threatening to leak, and he hands it to a flight attendant.
When a hot virus multiplies in a host, it can saturate the body with virus particles, from the brain to the skin. The military experts then say that the virus has undergone “extreme amplification.” This is not something like the common cold. By the time an extreme amplification peaks out, an eyedropper of the victim’s blood may contain a hundred million particles. In other words, the host is possessed by a life form that is attempting to convert the host into itself. The transformation is not entirely successful, however, and the end result is a great deal of liquefying flesh mixed with virus, a kind of biological accident. Extreme amplification has occurred in Monet, and the sign of it is the black vomit.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Various families of fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. As bat soup is a regional delicacy, the nation of Guinea has outlawed the dish in an effort to try and slow the spread of the virus.
Earlier in the week a Canadian tourist returning from Liberia was been hospitalized with Ebola-like symptoms in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. While Canadian health authorities have since ruled out Ebola, though the patient remains in isolation and is in critical condition with a hemorrhagic fever of unknown origin.
Health authorities in the U.S. and Canada have ramped up surveillance efforts at ports of entry and infectious disease experts in hospitals across N. America are on the alert for patients showing signs of infection.