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Ebola Virus; What's The Deadly Ebola Virus about?

Updated on October 15, 2014

Laboratory Scientists Research Innovation

 laboratory scientists research innovation
laboratory scientists research innovation | Source

Ebola virus

Ebola virus
Ebola virus | Source

How it started in Sierra Leone

According to officials in Sierra Leone the deadly outbreak of Ebola virus started when a native healer claimed she had the powers to treat and cure the virus. The herbalist because of her claim had cross border cases that came from Guinea to her remote village close to the border.

She got infected and later died from the disease, during her funeral neighbors and friends of the woman also got infected further spreading the virus to other villages. The virus final made its way through travelers to Kenema a major city of about 190,000 inhabitants.

Ebola virus

The Ebola virus in the past three months May2014 to August have been ravaging the West Africa sub region with deadly results, the outbreak by First week of august had infected over 1600 lives claiming 980 people across countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Now the threat is real and knocking on the door of other African countries as well as America and Europe. The migratory efficacy of air transportation to major cities in the world has brought this deadly virus closer to our door steps than ever before.

The apathy of giant pharmaceutical organizations to developing a cure or vaccine has made this current outbreak very frightening. On July 20th a Liberian government official whose sister had previously died of the virus entered Nigeria via Togo collapsing at the Nigerian International airport airport. He was later found to have contacted the dreaded Ebola virus and within five days died.

All the primary and secondary contacts where quarantined and within a two week seven health workers had contacted the disease including a medical doctor and a nurse who recently died. The very contagious disease that has no cure or vaccine causes hemorrhage fiver, high fever excessive bleeding and death.

Other symptoms are dry cough, feverish feeling, diarrhea, red eyes, rashes and excessive bleeding from the mouth, or ears eyes. Ebola is known to claim over ninety percent of the victims within seven days of showing the symptoms, because the infected persons are only given rudimentary treatment according to their symptoms.

Secondary contact victims are usually placed under observation from 21 days to 41 days before they get the all clear signal. Making a country like Nigeria that hadn’t seen a case of the virus in its history within two weeks of contact with an infected person is now grappling with multiple infections.

The deadly Ebola virus first appeared in 1976 in the Congo and has five distinct species of the virus. But not all the species of this virus is deadly to humans, Infection can come through infected primates like gorillas, chimpanzee, monkeys, small antelopes and fruit bats.

It can also be transmitted through contact with infected persons via blood, sweat, saliva, skin cells or the eating or handling of an infected animal like bats or monkeys. Another way the Infection can occur is through human to human contact through human secretions.

Ebola-Zaire

Ebola-Zaire
Ebola-Zaire | Source

Spread

What is Ebola virus and how does it spread

Ebola is the name of a virus that has its origin from the river Ebola in democratic republic of Congo, the virus causes hemorrhage fever to its victims. Till date no cure or vaccine has been developed but the WHO says there might be a vaccine by the middle of next year 2015.

Ebola is highly contagious and spreads quickly even the dead body can infect the handlers. Up to ninety percent of victims die while the sick people can spread the disease. Anybody with direct contact with sick victims is at high risk of contacting the virus.

The only preventive measure is keeping a distance from infected persons while maintaining proper hygiene and constant washing of hands with disinfectants.


Ebola symptoms

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Preventive measures

The preventive measures are just guide lines and might not necessarily be totally effective; some of the measures advised are highlighted bellow.

1 Washing of hands regularly with soap and disinfectants

2 Touching of infected persons either living or dead is risky

3 Avoid eating meat obtained form the forest referred to as bush meat

4 Don’t eat bats especially fruit bats

5 Quick response to symptoms of illness might save the life.

6 Visit medical centers if there are related signs of the illness

7 If infected keep away from others until contained in a health facility

8 Be careful not to spread vomit or diarrhea.

9 Feeling feverish go for scanning and testing

Fruit bat

Fruit bats are said to be carrier of Ebola virus
Fruit bats are said to be carrier of Ebola virus | Source

Early symptoms include

  • Fever. The victim experiences fever
  • Backache
  • The infected person experiences sore throat
  • Headaches and bloodshot eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting is a serious indicator

Once the symptoms manifests the person deteriorates quickly getting to the next stage which includes having rashes, blood in the excrement, bleeding from the eyes, mouth, ears, and nose. Genital swelling is common, sensitivity to touch and redness in the mouth.

Facts about the virus

The Ebola virus claims 85% of its victims and is transmitted by infected animals like bats and primates to humans, in-turn human transmission is done through human to human contact with the infected persons seminal fluids like saliva, blood, sweat.

Ebola virus can be found in fruit bats and infected humans need intensive treatment to stand a chance against this deadly and frightening disease. Previously such outbreaks were localized to small East and West African villages but with modern transportation like air travel, train, ship and land the deadly virus now spreads quickly to other countries.

The recent and still ongoing outbreak found its way to other countries not known to have experienced the deadly virus like Nigeria. Lack of adequate healthcare services and information are other reasons this particular outbreak should be of great concern.

Early symptoms

Experts say the incubation period of the virus ranges between two weeks to three weeks depending on how the person gets infected. Infection might occur from touching the body of a recently deceased victim, having contact with body fluids like urine, blood or sweat.

Demography as at August 18, 2014

2014 countries affected
cases
deaths
Siera Leone
907
374
Guinea
579
423
Liberia
972
396
Nigeria
15
4

A map of the spread of the 2014 West African ebola outbreak

A map of the spread of the 2014 West African ebola outbreak
A map of the spread of the 2014 West African ebola outbreak | Source

Ebola outbreak in West Africa Deadliest yet

The two aid works that survived

Dr Kent Brantley and another aid worker Nancy Wiritebol infected with the Ebola virus was the first recipient of an experimental drug Zmapp. They were later flown to Emory university hospital united states of America, quarantined and treated. The volunteer works after several weeks in the hospital are said to have made a full recovery and certified virus free.

Epidemic status

August 22 2014

In Liberia the situation has become critical with hundred of people queuing up for screening of the Ebola virus and several new cases discovered daily. The deadly disease usually restricted to rural areas has become prevalent in the capital city Monrovia which has over a million 970, 000 inhabitants.

The World Health Organization due to the critical nature of the disease after consultation with other ethical groups decided that experimental drugs that haven’t gone through the first human trials can be used to fight the disease.

Ebola experimental drugs and vaccines

Till date there is no licensed drug for Ebola so the victims are treated for the symptoms they have ranging from fever, head aches, diarrhea. They are also administered lots of fluids to reduce the effect of dehydration and loss of body mass.

Several experimental drugs have been suggested for use like Zmapp, TKM-Ebola manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, VSV-Ebola including some possible vaccines. WHO believes a vaccine might be available mid April 2015 which might be used as a preventive measure against new outbreaks.

Pathologists looking into microscopes

Pathologists looking into microscopes
Pathologists looking into microscopes | Source

Ebola cured us missionary doctors relreased

Hopes for a cure

There seems to be hope for a cure to this deadly scourge at least in the near future so long as the virus is contained. My optimism is hinged on an experimental drug administered to two American missionary volunteers who had contacted the disease in Africa. They were administered the experimental drug ZMapp and flown to America under quarantine.

The treatment known as ZMapp was created by a biotech biopharmaceutical company using Ebola strains from lab mice. The extracts from the mice are later introduced into tobacco plants to create more serum. Interestingly the experimental drug when administered to the American victim showed promise within an hour of receiving the drug.

According to reports four monkeys infected with Ebola and administered the drug survived while two of four monkeys given the drug within twenty four hours survived while the ones not given died within five days.

Total recovery

Around the 20th of august 2014 the two American patients that received the experimental drug ZMapp had made a full recovery and have gone home to their families. They were certified totally free of the disease and are deemed not contagious a wonderful bit of news

Although Ebola virus presently has no certified cure there is hope for one in the near future because of positive outcomes of several treatment methods, therapies and experimental drugs.

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