- Politics and Social Issues
Told Ya 'Bout Ebola
A Little History Behind the Bug
It is hard to say whether or not we as a race are approaching another widespread pandemic or are simply getting worked up; but either way, one thing is for certain and that is that Ebola should be taken very seriously. The problem should be dealt with a calm and collected mind state. Besides, this isn't the first time we have had a run in with this virus...
The Ebolavirus, named after the Ebola River in Zaire, Africa, first emerged in Sudan and Zaire around the year 1976, after it was...well, how it was contracted throughout these neighboring countries is as big of a mystery to me as it is to you; but the women and men working hard in fields of research on Ebola have never been able to trace it's origins. Some sources say that the virus was contracted through several species of bat, namely, the hammer-headed bat, the little collared fruit bat aaaand, this one is fun to remember, Franquet's epauletted fruit bat. Now, who knows exactly how these lil bastards spread the virus but I know one thing's for sure, they should feel bad about it. Can bats empathize? Would they feel anything after witnessing assault and BATtery? ...Am I right?! Anyone?! Alright, sorry - I'm no comedian...yet! OK!!! Moving on this time, I promise...erm...
Next stoooopic,the types of Ebola virus... ALLL ABOOOOARRRD....
...Ok... I'll stop now, I swear.
It looks innocent...
5 Known Species of Ebolavirus
Here are the 5 known species of EbolaVirus discovered by the hard-working virologists, researchers and the like who are working hard to contain this virus and prevent a pandemic - they are listed chronologically from first discovery to most recent discovery. They are named after the region they were discovered in:
- Ebola-Sudan (SUDV)
The very first virus that introduced itself to Sudan, Africa in the Summer of 1976 through what's believed to be transmission through several types of fruit bat. The virus had a mortality rate of about 53%, infected nearly 300 people and claimed, malignantly, over 150 lives.
- Ebola-Zaire (Ebo-Z) or EbolaVirus (EBOV)
The "predecessor" to SUDV, this virus was named after the Ebola river in Zaire, where it originated; and is the virus which was coined as Ebolavirus. Having showed up just 2 months after Ebola-Sudan, in August 1976. The virus was transmitted through what is believed to have been unknowing, infected, hospital staff working at Yumbuku Mission Hospital, during cleanup and treatment of infected patients. It had a malevolent 88% mortality rate and claimed the lives of nearly 300, while infecting 318 people. This virus seems well-equipped to reach pandemic levels if not properly managed. Yikes.
- Reston Ebolavirus (RESTV)
This virus was brought to the Reston, Virginia in 1990. The generous crab-eating macague, or long-tailed macaque as it goes by, is responsible for bringing this virus to the USA after being shipped over from the Philippines to Covance formerly known as Hazleton Laboratories at the time. Though there is some good news and that is, this virus doesn't seem to effect humans in the same way as it does our primate cousins and other animals. Regardless, the virus should be taken seriously.
- Taï Forest Ebolavirus (TAFV)
Also known as the Côte d'Ivoire ebolavirus, this virus introduced itself to that region in 1994. Contracted through chimps in 1994, this virus originated from the Tai Forest in Côte d'Ivoire, Africa.The virus is thought to have been transmitted to the chimpanzees through the predation of infected red colobus monkeys.
Bundibugyo Ebolavirus (BDBV)
First discovered in the Ugandan town of Bundibugyo in 2007 and again later in The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012, this species of Ebolavirus is categorized as a Risk Group 4 Pathogen. In other words, like the former species listed, it is extremely contagious and you don't want it infecting your immune system.
Now that the history is out of the way...
...what exactly is going on? Well, there's outbreaks going on all over Africa, there's reports of infected people in Italy, the UK aaaand citizens of the USA are panic-struck as outbreaks of Ebolavirus have been reported in Dallas, Texas; and the scariest thing is, 2014 has been a year with more deaths and infections throughout the globe than any other year...take a look...
Furthermore...Africa in itself isn't looking much better...
- Daily chart: Ebola's spread | The Economist
The current Ebola outbreak is the worst on recordLIBERIA has closed most of its borders, banned public gatherings and announced quarantines of some communities in an...
Global Ebola Outbreaks 1976-2014
Are You Worried About Ebola?
Do you think Ebola will be stamped out or become a pandemic?
Evolution of the Virus
What a conundrum the globe has here, as not only is this virus contagious while the symptoms are not-yet apparent (taking 1-2 weeks for any to occur); but it also likes to evolve, changing form; and...in worst cases, becoming stronger and more contagious. The Reston Ebolavirus (RESTV) has already evolved in a way which makes it able to be transmitted through the air; but thankfully, RESTV isn't contagious or threatening towards humans.
How does the virus evolve?
A virus will become stronger by sticking around without being eliminated. Such as the hanta virus, HIV, etc. The virus has RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which means that there is no DNA sequencing, and so any error found within the RNA genomes will not be corrected. Instead, the RNA completely recreates itself with completely updated genomes; and in doing this, creates a whole new, stronger version of the virus.
Another way that the virus becomes stronger is through transmission from animal to animal, or person to person. This is why it is so important to contain the virus - it gets stronger every time it's transmitted. Like the Blob or something; and what a horror it is.
"Oh, is there a risk of global pandemic?"
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
I think so but only if the virus is handled with absolute care and choices to move infected personnel are logically made. Personally, I don't think it made sense to bring an infected patient to the USA for treatment. In fact, if I had the choice I would've got a pilot's license and flew the required personnel to Liberia myself to help contain the virus. I don't see the need in having to fly infected personnel into the USA and now, sure enough, we've got infected individuals here. It's a shame that our elected officials are taking such unnecessary risks when the right choice, if governed by common sense, would seem to be to isolate a country from any contagious disease-carrying person. What do I know though? I'm not an elected official. I think it's too early to really make any conclusions but I reaaaallllyy think more necessary precautions should've been taken. Besides pointing out the obvious lack of effort in keeping infected people out of the USA, I think some money should be well-spent in creating much better technology to conceal the virus, better HAZMAT suits instead of suits that look to be put together with old raincoats, rubber dish washing gloves, cheap safety masks, construction goggles and duct tape. Ok, maybe I'm being cynical, but some of these suits look as if they were thrown together with household materials... Ah well, may God save us all. Good luck everyone, God Bless, and may you stay healthy!