The Ebola Virus - Agent of Death - Mystery Files
The Ebola Virus - Agent of Death
It made it's first appearance on the Zaire/Sudan border in 1976. No one knew where it had come from; no one knows why it appeared where it did, and no one knew where it would appear next - It was swift, it was horrific, it was absolutely deadly - It was the Ebola Virus.
What is Ebola?
The Ebloa virus is possibly the most frightening virus in the world. It is incredibly infectious and absolutely lethal, killing nine out of every ten people it infects. Many experts fear that the Ebola virus has the potential to be the "Black Death" of modern times.
The disease created by the Ebola Virus is known as "Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever". It is swift, deadly and horrific to behold.
Upon infection, the Ebola virus acts quickly and violently to kill it's host. Those cursed by infection will at first experience headaches and fever, as this takes hold, the internal organs will begin to bleed. This quickly becomes uncontrolled internal hemorrhaging and within a matter of days, the internal organs are reduced to jelly-like masses which the infected person will then begin to expel via all and every bodily orifice, as they slump and die within a pool of their own blood.
Named after the Ebola River Vally in the Congo, the original source of the Ebola Virus is unknown. The infection has been found in monkeys, but the infection reservoir may just as well be bats or even insects. The Ebola Virus, like all viruses, is very difficult to treat medically. Antibiotics, although effective against bacteria, are useless when confronted with a virus. Because viruses take over their hosts cells, it is hard to damage the virus without damaging the hosts cells, both infected and non-infected.
The usual method of treating viral infections is to develop a vaccine. However, the Ebola virus mutates so rapidly that by the time a vaccine has been developed, ebola has already moved on, making any such vaccine ineffective.
The method of controlling the Ebola virus up to now has been largely one of containment. Whole villages have been quarantined off from the rest of the world and the virus has been left to take who it will. When the disease had run it's course, medical personnel would go in to care for the survivors - If any.
Modern jet-age travel is a huge concern, as just one infected person flying to, say New York, could create an epidemic of massive proportions with devastating consequences.
Ebola Virus Death Weapons?
The military have not been slow to recognise to potential of the Ebola virus as a weapon of war. Terrorists too, have looked to the Ebola virus as a means to spread death. Members of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo Cult were known to be considering the use of the virus when in 1992, their leader Shoko Asahara took about forty of his members to Zaire under the pretence of offering medical aid to Ebola victims in a (failed) attempt to acquire an Ebola virus sample.
Because of it's lethality, and the fact that no viable treatment exists, the Ebola virus has been given the classification of "Biosafety Level 4 Agent". It is also classed as a "Category A Bioterrorism Agent" by the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
One major Ebola virus outbreak in 1995 had all the hallmarks of a doomsday situation. The outbreak was located in the city of Kikwit in Zaire. The impending terror of the situation ripped through the population of 400,000 people as they desperately tried to avoid any physical contact with each other. As victims of the disease died, they were simply left where they had fallen.
The World Health Organisation and the American Center for Disease Control sent in experts clad in Biological Warfare Suits. Stringent quarantine and sanitary measures were imposed in order to minimise the death toll, and it seems to have worked as the official Ebola death total was calculated to be only seventy-nine people.
Each fatality suffered a horrific death, but the low number of deaths surprised the experts. They calculated that one of the reasons for this was the fact that while the Ebola virus can easily spread through body fluids, it seems unable to travel through the air.
The speed of infection may also be another reason for the low death rate. The incubation rate of the disease is about a week to ten days, but can often be a lot faster - sometimes as little as two days. This means that Ebola virus can frequently kill it's victims before they have had time to spread the disease.
Once again The Ebola virus had appeared - apparently from nowhere - bringing with it death and devastation - and then it just disappeared as quickly as it had come, leaving behind it ravaged yet grateful survivors who were thanking their lucky stars that they had been spared - Until next time.
Nobody can be sure of why, when or where the next Ebola virus outbreak will happen, but there is one thing that they can be sure of - it will happen.
Zaire Ebola Outbreak Documentary
When a dreaded outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus swept through a remote region of Zaire in May 1995, NOVA was the only film crew permitted into the "hot zone." Spending a total of four weeks in the quarantined city of Kikwit, the result is unprecedented journalistic coverage of this grim battle against one of the world's most lethal diseases.
The Ebola plague kills a very high percentage of its victims (77% in Kikwit), often by dissolving their internal organs and connective tissue. Learn how disease specialists traced the origins of the outbreak by compiling a complete "chain of death" of the epidemic, and why they fear a mutation of Ebola will emerge that is even more difficult to contain.
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