Oct 28, 2014 06:36 PM EDT
Researchers have finally uncovered the mystery as to where the epidemic that is Ebola started, and from which person the outbreak originated.
His name was Emile Ouamouno, a young boy who lived with his family in Meliandou, a simple village in Southern Guinea, and he was the first casualty of the Ebola virus. After him, the Ebola virus has spread to surrounding countries Sierra Leone and Liberia, reaching Nigeria, and travelling as far as the U.S and Spain. An epidemic that shook the world ensued.
According to researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine, Emile, also known as Patient Zero, had high fever, started vomiting, and excreted black stool on December 4 last year. He died four days later. Within a month, others in his family died, including his mother, grandmother, and 4-year old sister.
It was not clear yet how the boy got the disease though it is a known fact that Ebola could be spread from animals to humans through tissue or infected fluids. Fruit bats, which are a delicacy in Africa, are said to be carriers of this deadly disease. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines.
After Emile's death, further tragedies followed. The mother died from internal bleeding on December 13; his sister, on December 29; and the grandmother, on January 1. Similar deaths in the village and surrounding villages continued up to the present moment when deaths in that part of West Africa has reached 5,000.
The New England Journal of Medicine said that after Emile's grandmother had died of the disease, more people in their village followed similar fate. They were the ones who became infected at the funeral, then, spread the Ebola to their relatives in another village, the study revealed.
The grandmother, according to the researchers, was treated at a hospital in Macenta, which is 80 kilometers from where Emile died. A doctor who treated her got sick and passed it to his brothers 133 kilometers away from Macenta. All of them died.
This was how Ebola started, and a proof of how such a deadly disease could spread like wildfire and even reach faraway places such as the U.S. As of now, scientists from around the world are working double time to find a cure or, at least a vaccine for the disease. Meanwhile, the world hopes for the infection to finally be contained and the recent prediction --that around 100,000 more deaths would take place before the end of 2014 in Liberia alone - wouldn't happen at all.
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