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Red Alert: AustraliaTakes Precautionary Measures to Keep the Ebola Virus at Bay

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By Sarah Thomas | August 5, 2014 3:48 PM EST

The death toll in the recent outbreak of Ebola has risen to 700. It spreads silently and rapidly. The fear of this deadly virus spreading to Australia has put the country on red alert.

Reuters
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014.

All border entry points to Australia are on surveillance and high alert for people who could be showing symptoms of Ebola. The border protection agencies and the government health officials held a meeting last week and a plan was drawn to take the necessary precautions to contain the disease from spreading to Australia. The disease could spread beyond Africa warned the International health community.

Since there is no cure for Ebola and the treatment is symptomatic persons diagnosed with the disease are quarantined.

Speaking at a meeting of the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, Professor Chris Baggoley, Australia's chief medical officer, said that Australia has the best border protection for infectious disease system, which is on high alert.

More than 200 Australians in Nigeria have registered on the government's Smartraveller Web site from the outbreak affected areas. The government has been in contact with each of the expats and travelers, giving updates and latest information about the disease, a spokeperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Professor of Molecular Virology Alexander Khromykh at the University of Queensland said that initially, a person infected with the virus shows symptoms like flu that turn into a hemorrhagic disease which includes bleeding in the eyes, internal organs and skin hemorrhages and it's extremely difficult to treat.

Ebola does not spread through air.  It is contracted through exposure to bodily excretions, including sweat, saliva, semen and urine. Even coming in contact with tears of an infected person will bring on the disease. The virus remains active even after the death of the infected person and coming in contact with the corpse will result in an infection.

The virus is formed in the fruit bats. They infect humans when they are bitten by these bats or consume them which is, customary in nations of Western Africa.

Tom Frieden, the director of the Centre's for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., said the Ebola situation in West Africa is 'out of control.' However, it could be restricted with 'tried and true' public health measures.

 "The virus, hitchhiking across borders for the first time aboard airliners, could spell new flight restrictions aimed at containing outbreaks," said the secretary for the International Civil Aviation Organiaation, Raymond Benjamin.

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(Photo: Reuters / Umaru Fofana)
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014.
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