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Ebola: The Invincible Virus of the 21st Century

Updated on April 20, 2015

This is What Ebola Really Looks Like

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Approximate Number Currently Infected World Wide

 
17145
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Ebola is Here

Ebola: A virus that seemed be dormant has reared its ugly head in an attempt to infect millions of people around the world. Only a few years ago, this mysterious but deadly virus has remained hidden in the heart of Africa. There have been numerous outbreaks since its discovery in 1976, but don't come anywhere near in comparison to today's outbreak. Ebola has somehow found a way to break out of its mold and infected thousands of people in Africa. This deadly virus may soon find a new home near you, if cannot be controlled. The fate of humanity could very well be at stake. It's ironic how something so small can be so destructive. This should awaken us to the idea that humans are not as great and powerful as we think we are. So, let's proceed.

What is Ebola

You may have been noticing the recent attention that the Ebola virus has been getting in the news. It seemed that just a few years ago, Ebola was a containable disease, but as of late that idea is being proven to be dreadfully wrong. I want this hub to be a practical and informative guide for those here on hubpages and beyond. I hope that you find this article useful and informational. It is vitally important that we are informed.

Ebola is considered one of the most terrible and deadly viruses known to the world. As it not only can infect humans, but animals as well. You may have asked the question in your childhood at some point "What is the worst disease ever on earth?" The answer you got would have most likely have been Ebola. Even the name Ebola carries an ominous overtone. It's kill percentage of people infected is one of the highest, and sadly there is no cure. Basically, Ebola can kill anyone no matter how strong their immune system might be. It is truly a virus from hell.

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Ebola: It's Origins

Ebola got its start in 1976 in central Africa. There were two major outbreaks: one in Sudan and the other in The Republic of Congo which is where the virus got its name from: The Ebola River. The original carrier is thought to be a species of bats, but then somehow eventually was transmitted to humans through other animals. The 1976 Ebola outbreak claimed 280 lives with only 38 survivors.

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The Symptoms

Virtually the most terrifying aspect of the virus itself are its symptoms. Once the symptoms begin, the person becomes contagious. The symptoms begin with a sudden onset of fever and fatigue and then move into:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Vomiting with blood
  3. Joint and Muscle pain
  4. Bleeding from orifices
  5. Liver failure
  6. Bloody stools
  7. Immune deficiency

Terminal Affects

The best way to summarize the Ebola virus, is that the virus itself eats the body from inside cell by cell. It starts by attacking the immune system then slowly phasing to the rest of the body through the blood vessels. When the virus finally gets to the liver, the body's ability to perform blood clotting ceases, thus cellular repair cannot be done which in turn allows the virus to accelerate its destructive path throughout the body. When the virus gets to this point, there is rarely any hope for recovery. The immense loss of bodily tissue is so severe, that the person virtually bleeds and vomits himself to death.

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Transmission & Spread

It is originally believed that back in 1976, fruit bats were the original carriers of the virus. Eventually it spread through larger mammals and eventually to humans in central Africa. Transmission of the virus is as follows :

  • Direct contact with blood or bodily fluids
  • Direct contact with unsterilized administering medical equipment
  • Direct contact with infected animals

Over the decades, ebola has spread slowly but broadly into west Africa. Ebola is not inherently an airborne virus. But scientists wonder if that could change at anytime. For now, Ebola spreads through direct contact or infectious bodily fluids left behind. Family, caretakers, nurses and doctors of the infected are the at most risk people of contracting the virus. Which is one reason why the virus is so dangerous. Without a known cure, the very people who are in charge of taking care of Ebola patients, are the most at risk. Even the dead are carriers of the virus, because the virus perpetuates even after a person dies. So even a simple funeral could contribute to the spread of the disease. Everything that an Ebola infected person touches becomes contaminated.

Deadliest Major Ebola Outbreaks

Year
Country
Deaths/Infected
1976
Zaire
280/310
1995
Zaire
254/315
2000-2001
Uganda
224/425
2013-Present
Northern Africa, Spain & USA
6841/18464
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Worsening Factors in Africa

Comparatively, the Ebola virus outbreak dwarfs those of the past. The first major outbreak in Zaire Africa claimed over 300 lives, while today's outbreak has claimed 6,000 and infected almost 16,000. This is an astonishing increase in ebola. Within only a years time from 2013, the number of cases jumped 3700 percent! One must have to ask his or herself, what on earth is causing this sudden eruption of Ebola cases? Did the Ebola virus win lottery? Metaphorically, it appears that way. But the answer can be found in its origins in Africa. There are three main factors to help summarize the reasons why.

  • Poverty: The countries being affected by Ebola are so poor, that the majority of the infected have little means necessary to seek treatment. This naturally allows the virus to spread among the people without hindrance. Here in the United States, we can easily get to the nearest hospital and the hospitals more than likely have state of the art facilities. Yet, in poor African countries, hospitals may only have minimal ways of treating the infected. Many lack the appropriate funding and supplies to operate effectively.
  • Inadequate treatment: As stated above, treatment centers in Africa are inadequately supplied coupled with the lack of quality care from nurses. Due to the poverty stricken environment, treatment centers are poorly funded. Most recently, the influx of patients has overloaded the health care systems in these countries creating overcrowded treatment environments. While treatment supplies are running short, droves of patients are still filing in, creating dangerously contagious waiting areas. The amount of time people have to wait for treatment increases the exposure time. Basically, these people will have to stand or sit in a waiting area for extended periods of time, while clustred together while being infected with a highly contagious virus
  • Unsanitary Conditions: To compound the situation even more, these treatment centers in Africa are very dirty. According to reports, nurses are practically serving in street clothes without gloves. The floors of hospitals are covered in highly infectious human fluids and excrement. Some reports note that the bodies of the deceased remain for days. Patients and caretakers must endure these conditions for long periods of time. Long enough for the virus to take hold and spread It's the perfect formula for a major outbreak and there seems to be no relief in site.

These three factors tie together to create the worst case scenario for the spread of the most lethal virus in the world. Ebola has a 9 to 10 kill ratio. Meaning that if everyone on earth were to become infected, only roughly 6 million people would possibly survive. This most definitely calls for concern and highlights the absolute importance of controlling Ebola. Case in point, Ebola has the potential to wipe out the human race if it is not delt with




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Causes for the Cure

Ebola is considered to be one the most elusive viruses of our time. Very little is known for its actual origin. With most viruses, the cure is found from information regarding its true reservoir. (The state of which a virus is naturally carried from). In the case of Ebola, we know very little. While we know that it most likely came from fruit bats, we don't know how fruit bats contracted the virus first. It could be that the bats were just the first known carriers. Did the virus come from outer space? Did it evolve out of a pool of goo? We may never know. For until we discover the first cause, Ebola will remain virtually incurable.

However, experts agree that the solution for now is to catch the disease early, contain it and provide the most excellent health care possible. Without a cure in the near future, putting our immune system in the best position to fight the virus is key. In Africa, the major concern has been the quality of care and unfortunately it seems that it's all getting way out of control. Another thing to think about is what about the AIDS virus? While everyone is concerned about Ebola, we are forgetting about other diseases being spread because of Ebola. AIDS is transmitted by the blood and Ebola causes bleeding. With those combined, you already have people walking around with immune deficiencies; who are incapable of fighting off the disease. The hospital conditions are such that it would be easy to slip and fall into pools of blood and bodily fluids. It's a disaster! So until we find that silver bullet cure, the solution is make sure healthcare facilities are kept clean and prestine, and that health care workers are adhering to established health care policies and procedures. Without those two things being directed and followed, Ebola will have free reign on the face of this earth.

Getting Involved

There is dire need for help in the fight against Ebola. With the current state of a potential world wide pandemic, it is clearly a frantic situation. If you feel that you have the call to help, head right over to the International Medical Corps website. Currently they are trying to find help for their Ebola Treatment Centers in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, Adam. The world with the U.S. in the lead must work tirelessly to find a cure for this scourge before it mutates. Our selfless health care workers who have gone over there are real heroes.

    • Adam Lee Andersen profile image
      Author

      Adam 2 years ago from Overland Park, Kansas

      Thank you sir for your comments. You may have a clue about the Ebola virus. Perhaps there is a pattern to follow of it's genetic makeup. Finding other viruses like it may help uncover some solutions.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      great hub Adam. Ebola is a terrifying virus. I read a novel, by I think Robin Cook about 15 years ago where a strain of ebola became airborne. That is not beyond possibilities as each new strain of virus seems to be more evolved than the one before.

      In Australia in recent years there has been a virus called "Hendra" virus (a form of rota virus)which is spread from fruit bats to horses and then ultimately humans. Horses have died from it and consequently one racehorse trainer and a few vets who attended them (I think the death rate is somewhere around 85%). In the last year they have successfully developed a vaccine to prevent the disease but as yet outbreaks are rare and isolated so most horses are not given the serum. If it is related to ebola, possibly there can be something learned from the vaccine developed here. Good important info, voted up.