Ebola and Other Deadly Diseases

The Ebola Virus as seen by Electron Microscopy

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August 8, 2014

According to the World Health Organization, West Africa, the Ebola outbreak is now considered to be an emergency public health concern for the international community.

"Between 5 and 6 August 2014, a total of 68 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 29 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone."

Ebola, or hemorrhagic fever, is considered most dangerous because of its fatality rate. The current outbreak is showing signs of a 90% fatality rate which puts Ebola squarely in the deadly disease category.

In spite of the alarming tweets published by non-scientists such as Donald Trump, Ebola outbreaks normally only occur in remote West African and Central African villages near the rain forests.

Ebola has been shown to be non-infectious by breathing normal air. But is infectious by human to human close contact with body fluids such as saliva, mucus, blood, possibly urine and feces, and sexual contact.

The original virus that causes Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is believed to have been transmitted to humans originally from infected wild animals. The virus can spread rapidly in crowded and poor communities due to lack of modern sanitation and burial processes. Handling of wild or dead animals can transmit the virus.

Medical personnel (doctors, nurses, laboratory workers) and those making funeral arrangements for casualties are at the greatest risk for contracting the Ebola virus. People having close contact with those infected with the virus are at very high risk of becoming infected. Casual contact (no sharing of body fluids) is considered a low risk of contracting the virus as long as good hygiene practices are put in place.

If you believe you may have contracted this virus, quarantine yourself and call a health facility as soon as possible. Inform them that you may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

For more information, contact the World Health Office via the link provided.

Wash Your Hands!

Good hand washing has been shown to dramatically lessen the ability for viruses to spread. It's a good habit to get into when you must go out in public.

Top Five Deadliest Viruses

Rabies Found in Infected Bats, Skunks, Racoons

Rabies is One of the Deadliest Diseases Known to Man.

Austin, Texas is Bat Capitol of the world. We have had several cases this year of children picking up bats that are found flopping around on the ground. This is definitely abnormal behavior for bats and may indicate that the bat has rabies.

Other animals that live all around us can get, carry and transmit rabies. It's very important that people with pets get them vaccinated at least every two years or as required. Rabies is a deadly viral disease that has no effective cure. Once symptoms are apparent, rabies is almost 100% fatal.

Rabies is transmitted in the saliva. Being bitten by a rabid animal is probably the only way to contract rabies. Anyone working in a veterinarian's office will usually get the rabies vaccine also as they are exposed to sick and injured animals.

The vaccine can save a person from dying if given as soon as exposure is suspected. This is because the incubation period for rabies is from two to three months.

Remember that wild animals and even infected domestic animals can be dangerous and carry the rabies virus. Never approach or handle any wild animals. Call your local animal control agency if you suspect an animal has rabies.

Rabies Negri Bodies

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Another Virus That is Deadly - Nipah Virus

This is one you have probably never heard of. It was discovered in Kampung Sungai Nipah, Malaysia in 1998. It appeared to be transmitted from infected pigs and pig farms. Later on it was discovered in people who had eaten date palm sap that had been contaminated with the virus from infected fruit bats.

This virus proved to be deadly in about 50 to 100% of the people that caught it. The symptoms were similar to other viruses in that they first present with respiratory problems and then advance to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

The fruit bat has been found to be the primary source and carrier of the virus, but it has also been show that human to human contagion is also possible. Pigs are victims in that they also contract the disease and can spread it to humans.

Currently, there is no vaccine and the only treatment is supportive. Supportive treatment means that care givers can support your breathing and circulatory systems until you either die or develop antibodies that are effective against the virus.

Influenza and How to Make a Vaccine

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The Flu

You may have heard of the "Spanish" Flu that killed so many people back in the early 1900s. Influenza has been one of the most common of the deadly viruses to emerge and affect nearly everyone on the planet.

Influenza is spread from birds and it mutates frequently. That is why these outbreaks are called "strains" of the virus. Since the virus is transmitted in birds, scientists are able to use their eggs to develop vaccines against these viruses.

Every year, the virus is cultivated anew and the new vaccines are grown. This is why a flu shot is needed every year during 'flu' season.

Some strains of the flu are much more deadly than others. Some flu viruses affect infants and old people the most. Other strains affect young adults the most.

Flu strains are designated with names like H1N1 or "Swine flu", and H5N1 or "bird flu". These viruses come around in seasons. In the U.S.A. the flue "season" usually starts in the Fall and peaks in January and February. Vaccines are available year round, but are generally given in the Fall.

The flu causes severe respiratory problems along with fever and pain in the joints. Pneumonia and dehydration are the biggest complications of flu. These viruses usually run a course lasting from one to two weeks long.

The annual flu vaccines are the best way to protect yourself against these viruses. Of course, good hygiene and hand washing will help to prevent the spread of the disease.

Antibiotics do not kill viruses!

Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections. They do not kill viruses like influenza, ebola, rabies, Nipah or any other viral illness. There is a new class of medicine called anti-virals that may help.

Virus Dangers

Are you worried about catching Ebola or other deadly viruses?

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© 2014 Austinstar

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Comments 10 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Well done, Lela, and timely. The same media that sensationalized ebola several years ago as a highly contagious threat and almost always fatal is now telling us just the opposite.

(sigh)


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

@Will- well, we do know a lot more about ebola these days, but the news still tends to sensationalize stuff.

I survived the AIDS "epidemic" and so did the majority of the world. I was working with AIDS patients before we were mandated to wear gloves and lab coats in the lab. We are much better prepared now to handle infective agents, so hopefully this one won't get out of hand either.


Say Yes To Life profile image

Say Yes To Life 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

Ebola has recently reached the US; first in Dallas, now in Honolulu. Thanks for this article, letting us know that what affects one group affects us all.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Thanks for the great information. I do worry that things such as Ebola and a deadly strain of the flu will spread throughout the US and/or other countries, but as you said, there are ways to help prevent the spread or contacting them from other people. I do think some people are over-reacting to Ebola news. I remember when AIDS first became common knowledge, people were so sure millions of Americans were going to die within months. That hasn't happened and I think that unless Ebola somehow became an airborne disease, we shouldn't start panicking.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Do not panic! That's the surest way to mess things up. Education and good hygiene are all you need to stay safe from most anything that can kill you. Just be careful out there.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for sharing the useful and important information, Lela. These viruses can be scary, so it's good to learn about them.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

Hi Alicia! I know you are familiar with "universal precautions", but most of the world still needs to learn how to protect against infectious diseases. But like AIDS and hepatitis, we will eventually gain control of Ebola. I think this outbreak will start diminishing soon.


LoisRyan13903 profile image

LoisRyan13903 2 years ago from Upstate NY originally from Long Island

Excellent hub. I believe too that the media overkills these. When the Swine Flu epidemic was going around, I took my daughter to the emergency room because she had flu-like symptoms. After three hours in the waiting room-mostly flu patients-whe was finally seen. Doctor said to give her such and such medicine and go on home. I asked about if she should be tested for Swine Flu or H1N1. He said it would be another 2-3 hour wait for the results. When I showed concern the doctor basically said with Swine Flu there were no antibiotics and would have to wait for it to run the course. He went on to saw that the Media needs to stop because it was causing unnecessary panic. She did only have the Flu. One of the symptoms of Swine Flu was a headache and she didn't have that.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe Author

That is the problem with viral conditions. There really isn't a good treatment for them. Anti-biotics are totally useless against viral agents. So, even if your daughter tested positive for H1N1, there is no treatment for it. So why do the test?

Some virals do have treatments called anti-virals, but they are not proven to work. Viruses mutate and what works for one person may or may not work for another.

The human body is its own best defense against virals. And trying not to get infected in the first place.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 2 years ago from West Virginia

They tend to push all those anti-biotics like they were a miracle drug. Unfortunately it does do more harm than good because it lowers our immune system, period. Media likes to blow things way out of proportion. It's what makes money..not health in my opinion.

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