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This chart presents an estimate for how long it takes Ebola to become symptomatic, given various levels of the number of viruses entering the body. The virus’s doubling time is about eighteen hours; thus if a single Ebola virus entered the body, at that rate it takes about thirteen days before the first fever strikes. A person infected with a large number of viruses, because they touched some virus-laden bodily fluids and then touched their own eyes, nose, mouth or open skin irritation, would display symptoms in only four days.

Until a person is displaying symptoms they are exposing the world to few if any viruses. The viruses only survive in a wet environment, and healthy people generally don’t spew wet particles, except when they sneeze. However, when the victim has an abundance of viruses in their body, they become sick and feverishly sweating, vomiting or having diarrhea they are exuding huge numbers of viruses in a wet material. When the viruses are wet they can survive for a long time. Even when an Ebola victim is dead their body is still being consumed by the viruses and their body is still exuding live viruses. That is why the funeral practices where the survivors touch the body puts those loving people at great risk of contracting the disease.

Ebola chart for timing progression of symptoms and contagion

The time in days for Ebola to manifest serious symptoms and become highly infectious is dependent on the number of viruses they begin with.

The numbers on this chart are flexible, but they demonstrate why it is necessary to track all people who have been exposed to the Ebola viruses. Even a single virus can cause the disease, but it takes many days before it manifests any symptoms. People who are working with sick patients should be tracked very carefully, and the easiest way to do that is by issuing a cell phone and a thermometer to every exposed person. They could then be phoned a few times per day to check their temperature and general health. To help maintain their cooperation they should be told when issued the cell phone that they will be treated for any disease they contract in the next thirty days free of charge. There will be people who contract some disease and fail to mention it, but when they can not answer their phone, or refuse to do so, a person can be sent to the cell phone’s location. This procedure should discover nearly all victims, and only expense to the public is the price of a cell phone, a thermometer and a person monitoring their phone and temperature.

Ebola is a disease that can be totally eliminated from the human population, and usually it remains gone until it is reintroduced from some wild animal source. Since it has recently entered highly populated areas it has become more difficult to isolate, but that must be done. There isn’t much danger of Ebola getting totally out of control in advanced countries with fully functioning health care systems, but in those densely populated areas with poor medical facilities there could be a massive outbreak. Any major city slum anywhere in the world is presently at risk, and so this disease must be eliminated as quickly as possible. Until it is gone, a disaster is lurking for billions of people. West Point, Monrovia, Liberia had some Ebola cases, but this tightly packed slum hasn’t gone epidemic yet, so there is hope that the disease can be controlled.

A good medical overview of Ebola is found at Up To Date.

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