Written by: Sheila Snow-Croft, Public Health Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region
Contact Sheila at: email@example.com
The Ebola virus is all over the news these days; the World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared the outbreak in West Africa an international health emergency. As always, we urge everyone to use authoritative resources for information and common sense when evaluating news and reports. Remember, there have not been any cases of human illness or death due to Ebola reported in the western hemisphere. Good information can be your best defense.
For basic information about the virus, MedlinePlus is the best starting point for research. Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) and learning about the category is a great place to begin: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hemorrhagicfevers.html (also available in Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other great resources, such as the World Health Organization, covering the overall VHF category, http://www.who.int/topics/haemorrhagic_fevers_viral/en/ and Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in particular, http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is our primary research organization and they are working overtime addressing this crisis; learn about it from them at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/vhf.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/. The CDC also provides a helpful guide to assist health professionals when evaluating patients suspected of having the Ebola virus: http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00364.asp. A perhaps less known government organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is another great source of information, as they are working together with many other organizations and colleagues to develop vaccines and treatments: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/ebolaMarburg/research/Pages/default.aspx.
Learning the facts before becoming overly alarmed remains good advice regarding all illnesses. With Ebola, receiving intensive treatment as soon as possible is key. Untested, rumored treatments and cures are dangerous because they provide false hope and often prevent or delay people from seeking medical treatment. Major health organizations work hard to provide and disperse good information along with treatment; knowing where to send colleagues and friends for quality information is important and we should all learn what we can before the virus ever reaches our shores.