Ebola- The Looming Pandemic Threat
Ebola virus disease (Ebola hemorrhagic fever):
Ebola is an virulent and infectious disease triggered by fever and severe internal bleeding. It is a viral hemorrhagic fever of human beings and other primates caused by Ebola viruses. Bush-meat is speculated to be origin of Ebola outbreak. The practice of eating bush-meat which is popular across Africa is solely responsible for this disease. An individual who consumes this type of meat or comes in contact with primates from that region are more likely to contract the virus. Bush-meat or wild animal meat that are killed for consumption includes antelopes, chimpanzees, fruit bats, rats, porcupines and snakes that may carry Ebola virus.
The first victim was a two-year old child from the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea on December 6, 2013 succumbed to Ebola virus, a region where bats which carry Ebola virus are frequently hunted and their meat is consumed. It is presumed that Fruit bats are the major carrier of Ebola virus. When the bat eats fruit and then discard the leftovers. The leftover fruit on the ground is now virus-infected. Subsequently, when a hungry primate consumes this discarded fruit, it acquires this virus and from there it is transmitted to human beings.
Researchers believe that Ebola may have existed more than 20 million years ago. They discovered traces of Filoviruses in viral fossil genes dating back to the Miocene Epoch period. This Ebola virus belongs to a particular group of filoviruses known as Filoviridae family. These virus have been interacting with mammals for several million years. The study is now focused not on Ebola specifically. They are trying to root out the ancestral and family origin of Ebola. Another virus known as Marburg Virus that comes under the same category of Filoviridae family is found to be tied to the ancient revolutionary lines and they shared a common ancestor 23 million years ago. Further evidence was uncovered by examining viral fossil genes from animals such as hamsters and voles which they acquire from viruses during infection. The genetic material present in the fossil genes are more closely related to Ebola than Marburg which clearly states that the two lines began to diverge during the Miocene Epoch. Scientists are trying to assimilate more about the deadly virus to find a cure and better treatment for Ebola.
Filovirus and Filoviridae family:
Filoviruses belongs to a virus family known as Filoviridae family causing severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates. The Filoviridae family is together comprised of families Paramyxoviridae, the order Mononegavirales. The virus Filoviridae family includes three sero or genotypes, Cuevavirus Marburg virus and Ebola virus. Ebola virus is further sub-divided into five types: Tai Forest, Sudan, Zaire, Reston and Bundibigyo. Ebola-Reston is the only few of Filovirus that not pose a severe threat to human beings but it can still be fatal in monkeys. One such case was when a cynomolgus monkey brought from Philippines had been in held in a private quarantine room died marked by anorexia and lethargy on March 30,1996. A second monkey like the previous one held in the same room was euthanized which confirmed Ebola virus infection by Electron microscopy, antigen detection enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction tests of serum and blood samples.
The order Mononegavirales is a collection of numerous viral genomic sequences. Some of the viruses of the order include of course Ebola virus, measles virus, mumps virus and rabies virus.
Paramyxoviridae is a family of viruses in the order Mononegavirales where humans, vertebrates and birds serve as natural hosts enveloping RNA virus, a nucleic acid which is single-stranded causing massive number of human and animal diseases.
Chronology of Ebola Virus Outbreak :
The first Filovirus was initially recognized in 1967 in Germany, when a group of laboratory workers was handling tissues from green monkey showed signs of hemorrhagic fever. Marburg Virus got its name with the onset of virus outbreak at Marburg, Germany. The virus did not emanate after this preliminary outbreak, until 1975, a sporadic case broke out in Johannesburg, South Africa when a traveler contracted the virus with his travelling companion and a nurse.
The first outbreak of Ebola Virus was reported in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 in a community near the banks of Ebola river, the reason how it got its name. One of the most deadly and devastating outbreak in history with 318 cases and 218 deaths. Since then many countries in Africa including Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Gobon, Cote d'lvoire, South Africa, Uganda, Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have frequently reported outbreaks of Ebola virus. In March 2014, much more severe and deadly outbreak initiated and reported in countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, United States of America and Spain leading to cumulative number of cases and deaths. Ebola Virus is a life-threatening disease that had claimed over 10,000 lives so far in West Africa. Liberia is now the worst-hit nation which has an estimate of 4162 deaths followed by Sierra Leone with 3655 and Guinea has recorded 2187 deaths according to the latest data. Even though, the process of stopping the virus transmissions was slow, the outbreak has finally come to a halt. As of January 14th 2016, WHO proclaimed that the killer virus that ravaged the entire nation of Africa is now an Ebola Virus free zone.