Is There A Cure For Ebola Virus Disease or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever?
Ebola Virus Budding From Cell
Ebola virus disease, (EVD) previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a scary and mysterious African virus with a bad reputation. It is currently crossing global boundaries with ease. But the race is on for the development of a cure and vaccine to stop the virus and end the nightmare that is Ebola.
A virus by any other name would be as feared, yet, it is not the name that is the enemy. Can we fight and finally beat this evasive and ferocious enemy, can it be cured? Why do some people survive Ebola and others don't? Where is the source of the virus, and can it mutate to become airborne as some experts seem to fear? The world needs answers to all these questions and many more in order to suppress the rising panic, as the Ebola virus gets ever closer, much too close for our peace of mind.
Ebola in the blood stream
Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealing some ultrastructural morphology as displayed by an Ebola Virus Infective form outside a host cell
Signs and symptoms of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever include:
A headache (40%-90%)
Myalgia/arthralgia (muscle/joint pain) (40%-80%)
Malaise (general discomfort) (75%-85%)
Pharyngitis ( inflammation of the pharynx at the back of the throat) (20%-40%)
Loss of Appetite
Hematemesis (vomiting of blood) (10%-40%)
Non-bloody diarrhoea (81%)
Blood unable to clot (71%-78%)
Abdominal Pain (605-80%)
Dry, sore mouth (63%)
Chest Pain (83% of EBO-E infected patients, uncommon in EBO-Z infected patients)
Hemorrhagic diathesis (unusual susceptibility to bleeding) (71%-78%)
Maculopapular rash (5%-20%) (a type of rash with flat red area on the skin, covered with small bumps merging)
Central Nervous System involvement, not common
Lymphopenia (Insufficient lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infection)
Severe thrombocytopenia (decrease platelet count that causes bleeding)
Transaminase elevation (an indication of liver damage)
Hyperamylasemia (an excess of the pancreatic enzyme amylase in the blood)
In the convalescent stage: loss of memory, central nervous system disorders and hair loss.
Cause of Ebola Virus Disease
The name Ebola is sufficient to strike fear and terror into the stoutest of hearts. The Ebola virus is the stuff of scary movies, the kind we hoped would never become a reality. But as the first reported case of the virus appeared in the U.S. and more recently, here in Europe, we can't help but wonder where it will strike next and how hard.
Even as I write this article, the awful news have reached us that another health care worker in Houston, Texas is now the first person to be infected with the dreaded Ebola virus inside the U.S.
The Ebola virus got it's name from the Ebola river in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, close to where the virus was first documented.
We've seen the pandemic movies like “Outbreak” we've watched safe in the knowledge that while the idea may be plausible, such events would never happen. Well...in some far flung corner of Africa, but not in our back yards. However, with globalization and mass travel, we are all sharing the same back yard. Nothing demonstrates this fact more than the current Ebola crisis.
We are now living in an ever-shrinking world, what happens on the far side of the planet can reverberate across the globe in a matter of hours. Because we've failed to grasp this simple truth we may be called upon to pay the ultimate price.
Ebola virus disease, also known simply as Ebola, is a disease that affects humans and other primates like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, also bats and rodents.
The disease is caused by infection with ebolavirus from the family Filoviridae, that includes three genera; Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus and Ebolavaris. "Filoviridae" comes from the Latin filo, meaning ''threadlike.'' The dangerous nature of filoviruses makes them difficult to study, which is why so little is known about this type of viruses. The CDC classified Filoviruses as biosafety level 4, this includes the most deadly diseases on the planet.
There are five known species of the ebolaviruses genus, four of which causes Ebola virus disease in human, and manifest as a type of hemorrhagic fever with a very high death rate. The five known virus species are named after the region where each virus was initially discovered :
- Bundibugyo ebolaviruses
Tai Forest ebolavirus
The Zaire ebolavirus, most frequently refers to as 'Ebola virus' is responsible for the highest number of outbreaks, the first documented outbreak occurred in 1976, with the highest mortality rate among the ebolaviruses. The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads by human to human transmission in the human population.
The average case fatality for the current EVD is 50%, but have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. The recent outbreak in March 2014, which began in West Africa, is the largest most complex since the Ebola virus was first documented.
This outbreak has affected more people and took more lives than all previous outbreaks combined. The disease spread from Guinea, across the borders to Sierra Leone to Liberia by air and on to Nigeria by a single traveler, then by land to Senegal, again by one traveler. The most severely affected countries are those where the health care system are lacking in resources. To date, there has been in excess of 4033 reported deaths in Africa due to Ebola virus disease. This figures are based on the official statistics only.
On August 8th the WHO Director-General declared the outbreak a 'Public Health Emergency of International Concern' even as another unrelated outbreak began in an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This feared virus, was first encountered in Zaire and Sudan in 1976. The Sudan virus infected over 284 people with a mortality rate of 53%. The second Ebola virus emerged a few months later in Yambuku in Zaire and was referred to as Ebola-Zaire (EBOZ), it infected 318 people with a mortality rate of 88%. Although scientific researchers made a huge effort to find the natural source or reservoir of the disease, it was never identified.
The third strain of Ebola, Ebola Reston (EBOR) showed up in 1989. The virus was discovered in monkeys imported to Reston, Virginia, from the Philippines. Mercifully, the few people infected with EBOR did not developed the hemorrhagic fever typical of the disease. EBOR is the only sub-type of the virus which does not cause disease in humans.
The next strain of Ebola came in 1994, when a woman ecologist working on a dead chimpanzee accidentally became infected during the procedure. This strain of the Ebola was named Ebola Cote d'Ivoire (EBO-CI)
As the death toll from the recent Ebola outbreak continues to rise, it appears that only mother nature knows how this frightening episode in the history of this killer virus will end.
It was only a matter of time before the spread of this most virulent, contagious virus would became a worldwide problem. But while Africans dies, the world waited, now the genie is out of the bottle, our politicians are as ever reactive when the situation calls for them to be proactive.
The experts were well aware of the likelihood that given the right set of circumstances, this virus had the potential to spread right across the planet. Instead of taking action to prevent this, it would seem that they simply sat on their hands and hoped for the best. Ebola currently spreads through direct person to person contact in the human population. In Africa, where wild animals are caught and used for food, the disease can be transferred from some animals to humans.
Once upon a time the world was a large and diverse place, then came globalization and the flow of goods and people across geographic boundaries. While this came with much positive benefits, there were always the potential for the spread of some of the world's most deadly diseases.
We now travel as a matter of course to places that were once isolated, we are able to transmit and spread harmful infectious diseases that are airborne, waterborne, blood-borne, those that are contracted by direct human contact and through the bits of insects and other creatures that are able to carry microorganisms from one species to another.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa a public health emergency that requires a coordinated international response to stop the spread of the disease. But our governments are only now beginning to take action to prevent the spread of Ebola.
A fully equipped Royal navy ship, RFA Argus, will be delivering British support to West Africa, as the UK 's armed forces take a pivotal role in the current Ebola outbreak by helping the Sierra Leone government to tackle this overwhelming crisis. The UK has committed to support 700 new beds in Ebola treatment facilities. This action is projected to help around 8,800 patients over a 6-months periods. But are we doing enough?
September 30th 2014, the first reported case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed in the US. And the fear of Ebola went, well.. viral (pun intended). Today, a Texan nurse who treated Ebola victim Thomas Duncan before he died, have now tested positive to the virus. Health officials are now claiming that there has been a clear breach in safety protocol and more health care workers are now at risk.
Ebola is among the most lethal viruses known to man, it can kill in a short space of time, 50-90% of people who are infected with the virus and becomes ill, dies. Ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of the most gruesome ways to die. Ebola kills by practically liquefying the insides of the body of it's victims. Ebola appears mysteriously, strikes, then beats a retreat. Where the pathogen goes, no one really knows.
Ebola Travels Fast In A Shrinking World
CDC Biosafety Levels Ebola and Smallpox Highest Level
How The Ebola Virus Spreads
An individual can become infected with the Ebola virus from direct physical contact with broken skin, or through the mucous membrane. Infection can occur through exposure to body fluids or secretions, i.e., blood, saliva, urine, stool, sweat, breast milk, sperm or from bedding, bandages or contact with clothing soiled by an infected person.
The spread of the virus can also happen through contact with contaminated objects such as needles. Transmission of the Ebola virus can occur from animal species to humans through eating the meat of wild animals such as bats, rodents and primates such as chimpanzees and monkeys are known as bush meat.
However, the greatest fear, as warned by the chief of the United Nation's Ebola mission, is that the Ebola virus may mutate and become airborne if the disease is not quickly brought under control. While this possibility is said by the experts to be rather unlikely, this nightmare scenario cannot be completely ruled out.
Bush Meat Possible Source Of Infection IN West Africa
Is there a cure for Ebola?
In one word no, there is no current cure for Ebola virus disease in humans, this current crisis demonstrates the urgent need for a vaccine now more than ever before.
According to the CDC, “no FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drugs) is available for Ebola. However, the consensus is that a vaccine is not far away. Researchers have made great strides in the past few years towards the development of a vaccine and new drugs to treat Ebola.
ZMapp, An Experimental Treatment For Ebola
Experimental medicinal products for the treatment of Ebola is currently being developed, but they are not yet tested for effectiveness and safety. Currently, the symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear, early intervention can significantly improve the chances of survival. The CDC says that some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed antibodies that can last for at least ten years, possibly longer. It is not yet known if those who recover from Ebola are immune for life or can become infected with a different species of the disease.
ZMapp is an experimental treatment that is now being developed in collaboration between MappBiopharmaceutical Inc., and LeafBio to treat the Ebola virus, but it is not a vaccine and requires time to produce.
ZMapp is a combination of three different monoclonal antibodies ( antibodies made by identical immune cells that are all clones of a unique parent cell) designed to bind to the protein of the Ebola virus triggering the immune system to destroy it.
This experimental drug therapy caused some controversy when it was given to U.S. Doctor Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol in Liberia.The manufacturers explained that there is a very limited supply of the drugs that is still in the experimental stage, it cannot be bought and is not available for general use. The drug takes a long time to make; it requires a particular biologically-engineered tobacco that can produce authentic human proteins. While there are plans for phase 1 clinical trials of the drug, they do not have the capacity to manufacture it in large quantities.
ZMapp and other Ebola drugs are apparently being fast-tracked for FDA approval.