Answers to your Ebola Virus Questions

Viral_infectionAs the Ebola outbreak in West Africa rages on, Ebola coverage is everywhere. But what exactly is the Ebola virus? How is it transmitted? In this post, we’ll answer basic questions about the virus. 


What is the Ebola virus?

“Ebola virus, one of two members of the family of filoviruses, causes a severe hemorrhagic fever with 50–90% human mortality. That no vaccines or treatments are yet available combined with the frequent re-emergence of the virus, its high prevalence among wildlife, and ease of importation of the virus make it a significant public health concern.” - Dr. Ahmad M. Hadied

When was Ebola discovered?

“Ebola was first recognized in 1976 as the cause of outbreaks of disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire) and in Sudan. Ebola produces one of the most deadly forms of viral hemorrhagic fevers. Exactly how the ebola virus enters cells is unknown at present. The ebola virus appears to infect many different cell types. It can infect various mammals, not just primates.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

How is the Ebola virus spread?

“By contact with the body fluids of infected people. Some animals presumably serve as reservoirs of infection between human outbreaks, but the details haven’t been worked out.” – Dr. Joel Gallant

What cells does the Ebola virus infect?

“Ebola virus is the cause of a very serious form of hemorrhagic febrile illness that has a very high mortality rate. Ebola virus can infect several types of human cells. One of the most important of these is human lymphocytes.” – Dr. Charles Sturgis

How can you avoid getting the virus?

“Do not go near anyone who has the disease.” – Dr. Susan Arnoult

Could the Ebola virus wipe out the entire population?

“No. The strains of ebola that affect humans spreads via contact with blood or body fluids that can be prevented by appropriate barrier protection. In the developed world, this will not decimate the human race.” – Dr. Larry Lutwick

How can others be prevented from getting the virus?

“Ebola has no cure or meaningful treatment other than to provide support to failing systems until the person recovers. The patient must be placed in a level 4 isolation to prevent spread.” – Dr. William Walsh

What is inside the Ebola virus?

“Each ebola virion contains one molecule of single-stranded, negative-sense RNA (genetic material). New viral particles are created by budding from the surface of their hosts’ cells. I am attaching two very good links to the cdc about ebola virus. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ http://www.Cdc.Gov/vhf/virus-families/filoviridae.Html.” – Dr. Charles Sturgis

Is Ebola hemorrhagic fever the same thing as the Ebola virus?

“The ebola virus is the organism that causes ebola hemorrhagic fever.” – Dr. Joel Gallant

What are the symptoms of the Ebola virus?

“In ebola virus signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection. Early signs and symptoms include fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, chills, sore throat, weakness. Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes, raised rash, chest pain and cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, bleeding.” – Dr. Ahmad M. Hadied

For more information about the Ebola virus including conditions, symptoms, treatments and tests, as well as answers from top U.S. doctors, visit HealthTap’s Ebola Virus page and check out our “Ebola Update” blog post.

Reinventing Healthcare with HealthTap Prime

09-TAKE-ACTION-Customized-Checklists-HealthTapAfter more than a year in the making – and just hours before we share the labor of our work and love with the world – a burst of joy and surge of energy has jolted through our new HealthTap office on University Avenue.

Everyone in the unbelievable HealthTap team was pitching in.  Some were debugging final small issues to ensure an amazing user experience; others were on a “dress rehearsal” call with a super excited doctor eager to start his or her first virtual consult shift on HealthTap Prime in just a few short hours.

This is a memorable and special moment in our lives, and in the history of humankind.  Each of us separately, and all of us together, have a rare opportunity to “write history” and make magic happen, by bringing hope, health and joy to many millions everywhere. In just a few hours we will help change the world for the better.  Everyone in my amazing team is an artisan who shared in the creation of the beautiful new reality that we will share with everyone.

And all we needed to do, was to simply imagine!

  • We imagined a world where we could design a method for billions of people to be happier and healthier :)
  • We imagined a world where we could create an experience that will positively impact the lives of our loved ones, but also the lives of people we’ve never met before!
  • We imagined a world where we could build one of the most amazing technology projects the world has ever seen, and launch it to millions who will instantly benefit from it.
  • We also imagined a world where what we’ve designed, built, and shaped will be the “launch pad for humanity” to expand life expectancy, and (most importantly) help billions everywhere feel good!

10-TAKE-ACTION-Reminders-Tips-HealthTapI am privileged to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people who are so much fun to work with, and with whom “impossible” always becomes “I’m Possible” in a heartbeat.
Over the past 3 years HealthTap has revolutionized healthcare, by providing hundreds of millions worldwide with free access to the world’s largest repository of high quality health answers, tips, and reviews—and the only such collection of trusted health information that is fully created, curated and edited by doctors.

I’m very excited to share with you that today we are once again transforming healthcare with our new digital health platform. Last year, when we started our research into what would become the new HealthTap, we’d already served more than 100 million people.  What we’re releasing today responds to the needs of these many people. We’re thrilled to introduce to the world a comprehensive end-to-end mobile healthcare experience that will enable millions everywhere to learn more about their health, get help from top doctors in real-time, and take action to feel good everyday.

The amazing HealthTap team is introducing to the world a true work of digital h06-GET-HELP-VideoChat--HealthTapealth art that includes:

  • Live Virtual Consults.  HealthTap Prime members receive unlimited medical advice in Virtual Consults from top doctors via HD video, audio, and chat, 24/7 from any mobile device or web browser. They also get prescriptions and refills delivered straight to their homes or their local pharmacy.
  • Actionable checklists. Our leading doctors have also created thousands of customized checklists that help people manage their health and reach hundreds of different goals, from healthy living, to pregnancy, to managing a chronic condition.
  • Curated news and apps. Our doctor carefully review and rate news articles and mobile apps on a comprehensive array of health topics
  • Personalized Feeds. Each member receives a customized feed of answers, news and tips, a first-of-its kind feed based on each member’s individual Health Graph—a proprietary custom digital map of a user’s personal health and well-being.
  • Beautiful new design. A new simplified and streamlined design with faster performance and even more engaging user experience

To stay true to our mantra that healthcare is a human right, most all of the new features in this groundbreaking release remain free (including personalized, text based access to doctor answers, tips, news, checklists and app reviews). Additionally, for an affordable fee, we’re also offering our Concierge Medicine for Everyone service—HealthTap Prime, with full access to all of these features, including live consults, prescriptions and customized checklists from anytime anywhere from any mobile device or web browser.  Take advantage of our launch special family package and subscribe to HealthTap Prime today!

To health and smiles,

Ron Gutman
Founder & CEO

Ebola Update: Officials Watching Outbreak Closely

Ebola Virus - What you need to know | HealthTap

The current Ebola outbreak has not spread beyond West Africa, according to public health officials  who are nevertheless watching it closely, and with great concern. So far, the outbreak has killed more than 670 people since February.

According to the CDC, people who may have been in contact with the virus are generally monitored for fever for 21 days and only about 50 percent of patients show extreme symptoms that can include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose. Others have only a fever as an early symptom.

Early treatment may lead to higher survival rates with treatment focusing on replenishing fluids, maintaining proper blood pressure, replacing lost blood, and treating related infections. Treatment is limited to supportive therapy.

According to Bloomberg news, historically, Ebola virus disease in Africa has killed as many as 90 percent of people who are infected. In this outbreak, the fatality rate is closer to 60 percent, according to Stephen Monroe, deputy director at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Concern for International Travelers  

Quoting CDC experts, Bloomberg News reports that symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, but unlikely because most people currently infected are too ill to sit up or walk.

But while an infected person who sneezes or coughs directly in another person’s face could infect that person, Ebola primarily enters the body through tiny cuts or abrasions, or through mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, ears and mouth, making it less likely to spread through air travel, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading.

The CDC is issuing an alert to U.S. doctors and health-care providers that will focus of the importance of asking patients about their travel history and outlining the symptoms of Ebola virus disease.

Experimental treatments have been tested and proven effective in animal models but haven not yet been used in humans.

Key Points to Know:

  • Ebola is  Ebola hemorrhagic fever because bleeding is the hallmark of serious disease
  • Symptoms are similar to many viral illnesses, with fever, muscle pains, and nausea and vomiting. It turns deadly with development of bleeding.
  • The time from exposure to onset of symptoms can be as long as 21 days.
  • Unlike influenza or measles, ebola is difficult to transmit, requiring close contact or sharing of bodily fluids (including sexual relations)
  • Men who survive Ebola may transmit the disease sexually (condoms recommended for 3 months after surviving ebola)

For more information about the Ebola virus including conditions, symptoms, treatments and tests, as well as answers from top U.S. doctors, visit HealthTap’s Ebola Virus page.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, Bloomberg News, and the doctors at HealthTap.

Raising Awareness about World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is July 28th, and the the World Hepatitis Alliance has begun a campaign to end hepatitis across the world. According to the World Hepatitis Day website, this disease is currently the world’s 8th biggest killer. While to date there is not an absolute cure for most forms of hepatitis, this disease is easy to prevent by taking a few simple precautions.

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What is hepatitis?

“Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is caused by a few specific viruses, types a, b, c, d, e, f (not confirmed), and g. The most common hepatitis viruses are types a, b, and c. A, by oral secretions and stool. B, sexual conduct, blood (tattooing, piercing, transfusions). C, sharing needles, transfusions. D, same as b. Up to 1/3 of cases have unknown source..” – Dr. Rick Kirschner

What is hepatitis A?

“Hepatitis a is a liver infection that will make you miserable for awhile with nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea , jaundice. There is no consequences or chronic forms however. So it’s not much worse than your trivial stomach bug with vomiting/ diarrhea for a couple of days.” – Dr. Olga Nilova

What is hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b is a virus that tends to infect the liver in humans. Transmission from person to person is by intimate contact (sexual activity) or blood exchange. There is a readily available blood test to see if you have it, and there is a vaccination available (3 shots over 6 months) to prevent you from ever getting it. Hepatitis b can lead to chronic infection and cirrhosis, possibly cancer.” – Dr. Colin Kerr

Is there a cure for hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b virus gets into the nucleus of liver cells, and its genetic information replicates when the liver cell does. So far, we don’t know how to get that dna out of liver cells. Fortunately, many people are able to completely control hepatitis b with their own immune systems. If not, doctors may decide to put people on antiviral medications to stop the hepatitis b from making copies of itself.” – Dr. Camilla Graham

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How is hepatitis C transmitted? Is it an STD?

“One can catch hepatitis c from an infected person by getting the infected person’s blood into oneself by activities such as: sharing needles during drug abuse, accidental needle-sticks, being born to a hepc+ mother, sharing razors or toothbrushes, or having sex. Transmission of hepc virus during sex can happen, but is uncommon, so hepc is usually not called an std.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

“Theres a lot of excitement surrounding several new medications for hep c genotype i. The most exciting is solvaldi (sobosbuvir) in combination with ledipasvir. Its not yet fda approved but we anticipate it being marketed within the next 12 months. Its a once daily tablet. The cure rate is 90% plus. This is an interferon free regimen. This will revolutionize the treatment for hep c.” – Dr. Dominic R. Riganotti

Are hepatitis vaccines important?

“Hepatitis A and B are now routine vaccines in the USA. If you are traveling abroad it is important to get protected. In some areas of the world Hepatitis A is very common. Simply by traveling there you are at risk of becoming infected. Frequent travelers (especially to China), humanitarian aid workers and adventure travelers should get the Hepatitis B vaccine. See your doctor for further advice.” – Dr. Sarah Kohl

Who should get vaccinated?

“The hepatitis a and b vaccines are very good vaccines, in that they are very safe and provide good protection against a couple of serious liver diseases. Everyone should get the vaccines as soon as they are eligible, which is at birth for hepb vaccine and at about 18 months for hepa vaccine.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

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How can I prevent a viral hepatitis infection?

“The best way to prevent viral hepatitis is to know the risk factors. For hepatitis a and b, there are vaccines which are effective at preventing acute infection. For hepatitis c, there are no current vaccines, so knowing that this can be contracted by sharing needles, blood transfusions and blood exposure, taking care to avoid these activities is advisable.” – Dr. John J. Fung

 

 

For more questions about hepatitis, ask our HealthTap doctors today!

Listeria Hysteria: What You Need to Know

Prevention, Symptoms, At-risk People, and Treatment

Listeria InfectionYesterday, Wawona Packing Co in California recalled stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines –anything with a pit) packaged at its warehouses between June 1 and July 22 on the suspicion that it may contain Listeria. A bold move, but a smart one that shows they have the consumers’ best interests at heart.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to children, pregnant women, and the elderly. According to the CDC, “general symptoms include, but are not limited to stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.”

HealthTap Doctor, Dr. Kevin Daus, says, “When you eat food contaminated with listeria, it can take up to several months for you to have symptoms. Most people are really sick when they seek help.”

The good news is that careful food handling practices can help reduce the risk of Listeria.  The FDA’s recommendations include:

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  • Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
  • Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.

TipTaps:

Keeping refrigerators and kitchen environments clean is a vital part of listeria prevention.  DO:

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
  • Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
  • Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.

And your meat thermometer will help determine if you meat has been cooked thoroughly. Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit the safe minimum cooking temperatures chart at FoodSafety.gov.

According to HealthTap doctors, Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can be fatal to those who are immunocompromised.  If you think you may have listeriosis, get tested right away. Listeria can be diagnosed from a blood sample or a spinal fluid test.

For more information on Listeria, visit HealthTap for a detailed description, symptoms, tests and treatments. Got more questions? Ask a Question Today!