First it was the ALS ice bucket challenge. Now it's the gratitude challenge she said!

Her statement got me thinking. The ALS ice bucket challenge became so popular on social media. People from all parts of the world had fun with it. But what is this ALS all about?

The ALS Association is the only non-profit organisation whose mission includes providing care services to assist people with ALS and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and a cure for the disease.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralysed.

The ALS ice bucket challenge was a way to raise awareness on ALS and funds for research on the disease. This organisation is based in the United States of America.

Some people who took part in this challenge were Nigerians and other people from West African countries. It is a great cause, no doubt. I am sure people suffer from it in Nigeria and it has not been given as much attention as it requires. On the other hand, I saw a few videos of people attacking anybody from West Africa who took the ALS ice bucket challenge for the obvious reason, EBOLA! That drove the message home. We have Ebola killing people so fast that an entire nation could get wiped out. Should that attention not have been given to Ebola awareness and raising funds for research on Ebola?
Now my point is, why do we follow blindly?

What is this Ebola virus?
According to the World Health Organisation, here are some key facts:
  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
  • EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
  • Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
This is what the virus looks like under a microscope
What the virus looks like in 3D

Transmission - Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. People can get infected from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.

Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

Signs & symptoms - EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.

If we have a disease as deadly as this taking lives on a daily basis, this would be the most appropriate thing to talk about or raise awareness on, don't you think? 

The outbreak began in Guinea in March 2014 then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. This has been the worst outbreak of any disease in the history of these countries. 
A Liberian - American, Patrick Sawyer on July 20th entered Nigeria from Liberia, bringing the deadly virus with him. Other countries whose nationals suffered from the disease are, the USA, Spain and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although, what was identified in Congo was said to be of a less dangerous strain than the one found in West Africa
Nigeria has so far contained this disease very well. Unfortunately, the country has not been cleared of it as some people are still under observation. The same cannot be said of other countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone as they are overwhelmed with the whole situation. It is now a world worry as the disease could get to any country. Different countries are supporting in ways they can.

Anyway, now the gratitude challenge is ongoing and I think it is a great initiative. Having to remind ourselves of what we should be thankful for everyday, despite the many things to worry about. You could never go wrong with giving thanks. When I got nominated, I wondered what I would write for seven whole days. I passed. The I got nominated again, I thought to myself to stop being a kill joy and just go ahead with it. Since I started, I have enjoyed writing about the many things to be grateful for. Beyond the seven days gratitude challenge, I have decided to keep giving thanks. Instead of complaining, we can show more appreciation. It changes the outlook on things. Try it, will you?



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