What is Ebola Virus? Before 2014, I had read about Ebola disease in a few magazines and books. Considering it’s a rare disease, I never paid much attention to it. But Ebola causes outbreaks in 2014, which was declared as international emergency made me realize how dangerous this disease could be. The worst part is that the fatality rate recorded due to Ebola outbreak is 80 percent. Western Africa has already been gripped by this disease, but the presence of Ebola virus can shock anyone residing in any country. So every individual should be aware of this disease and its preventive measures to keep Ebola at the bay. This is the reason why I am writing this article. This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding Ebola virus, the disease symptoms, treatment and its preventive measures.
Facts about the Ebola virus
Ebola Virus History:
Ebola Virus History date backed in the 19th century. For the first time, the Ebola virus was found in 1976 in Africa. Ebola virus causes the outbreak which is not new. Humans witnessed the outbreak of Ebola disease in 1976 in Northern Zaire and southern Sudan. At that time it was mostly concentrated in the remote villages of the central Africa. In fact, the disease acquired its name “Ebola” due to being first being observed near the river Ebola in Zaire in 1976. The fatality rate of Ebola in the mammals and the humans varies from 50 to 90 percent. Animals such as chimps, African monkeys, and other primates except humans are the host of this virus. From the earlier days, the people believe that the fruit bats are the normal carriers of this virus. The Fruit bats spread the Ebola Virus, but they do not possess any effect.
Human is not a natural host of this virus but may be infected by it on coming into the contact with the infected animal. The rate of multiplication of the Ebola virus is very fast and in no much time, a stage reaches when just a single drop of the blood contains 100 million particles of Ebola virus. The protein present on the outer surface of the virus ruins the immune system of humans. Even the virus uses the molecules that eject out from our immune cells in response to the virus and devastates the vascular system along with the activation of the blood clot formation. There is capillary fragility along with the platelet destruction that finally leads to bleeding, shock, coma, and death.
What is Ebola virus?
Ebola virus belongs to Filoviridae family is one of the deadliest viruses on the earth. Till date, we knew only 5 sub-species of Ebola virus. They are Zaire ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Taï Forest ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus and Reston ebolavirus. Among them, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Zaire ebolavirus are the reasons to cause large outbreaks. The outbreak in 2014 was caused by Zaire species. Check the Ebola virus pictures given here. To know the brief description of the Ebola Virus, refer the below link.
What is Ebola Disease?
In earlier days, The Ebola disease is called as Ebola hemorrhagic fever and is considered as a fatal illness. The disease causes fever along with severe internal bleeding that leads to the failure of the body organs and causes death if untreated. The worst part of the Ebola fever is that till now there is no medicine that can cure it. And we are only dependent on the supportive care and treatment of the complications. However, the condition of the Ebola victim can get relief by providing hydration and medicines for reducing the symptoms.
How Ebola Virus Spread?
The first question after hearing about the disease is How is Ebola Caused? So, we have provided information about how Ebola virus spread. Have a glance at the causes of Ebola and prevent the disease.
- Ebola virus enters into the human body through close contact with the body fluids such as blood, and other secretions. Coming into the contact with the feces and the urine of infected animals or handling, butchering and eating the meat of the infected animal may also cause Ebola Disease transmission into the humans.
- Once a human gets positive for the Ebola virus, they can easily spread it to other humans through contaminated needles or contact with body fluids such as blood and saliva.
- Infected materials such as clothes, bed covers or infected surfaces and even direct contact with the mucous membrane and the broken skin may also spread this disease among humans. Because of this reason, the healthcare team who treat the Ebola Victims are also at a greater risk of spread of Ebola Virus.
- Close contact with the Ebola positive dead body may also spread the infection. Thus, the healthy individuals should take some precautions to avoid direct contact with the corpse during the burial ceremonies.
- It has been found that the individual that have been recovered from Ebola Disease may carry the virus in their semen even after several weeks and months.
- The nursing mothers who may carry the virus in her breast milk for months. Thus, Who recommends that the Ebola survivors and their partners should abstain themselves from any kind of sexual activity. It is better that they use condoms and practice safe sex until the semen shows a negative test for Ebola virus at least 2 times. Once the test is negative, the survivors may resume to normal sexual practice without any fear of transmission of the Ebola virus.
How does not Ebola Virus Spread?
- One of the relieving points about the transmission of Ebola Disease is that it is not an airborne infection. However, eventually inhaled small droplets of infected mucus or saliva may transmit the disease.
- Till now, there is no evidence that supports the spread of the disease through food, water, mosquito bite or bite of other insects.
Symptoms of Ebola virus disease
Once an individual becomes Ebola positive, it will take 2 to 21 days for the onset of the Ebola symptoms. This asymptomatic period is known as the incubation period. However, in a few cases, it may take more than 21 days to develop the symptoms of Ebola Disease. The humans are not infectious until Until the Ebola symptoms reach high. In the later stages of the disease, the Ebola Victims is more contagious. So, check the Ebola virus symptoms with pictures.
Ebola symptoms in the initial stage of the disease
The initial symptoms of the Ebola Virus disease are very similar to influenza. Also, the Ebola Victims will experience weakness, fever, tiredness, muscle soreness, pain in joints, sore throat and loss of appetite.
Severe symptoms of Ebola Disease
In the Ebola Victims with severe Ebola Infection, with diarrhea, vomiting, and pain in the abdomen follows the above symptoms. After this, there is shortness of breath along with chest pain. Red eyes swelling, loss of weight and confusion appears as the disease progress. About 50 percent of people will start to develop a maculopapular rash that is a flat and a red area that has small bumps. The maculopapular rash appears after 5 to 7 days after the initial symptoms begin. Symptoms of Ebola also includes Bleeding from eyes, bruising, internal bleeding may finally lead to shock and death. Remember if you ignore the Ebola Virus Disease Symptoms it leads to the death of an individual.
Bleeding in Ebola infection
Almost all the Ebola victims show decreased in the blood clotting. In some of the cases, bleeding appears after 5 to 7 days of the appearance of first symptoms. There is bleeding from mucous membranes, eyes, nose, and rectum. In about 50 percent of the cases, the patients report bleeding from the site of the puncture. There is blood in the stool, vomit and cough. Petechiae, hematomas, purpura and ecchymoses also occur. Although heavy bleeding is very uncommon, it may occur in case if it is present within the digestive tract. Bleeding is one of the worse outcomes that leads to death.
Diagnosis of Ebola Disease
The symptoms of the Ebola Disease resemble cholera, dengue malaria, and other diseases. Thus, just symptoms are not enough to diagnose the disease. So, to confirm the condition one should undergo the following tests and they are as follows:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood coagulation test- This measures the ability of the blood to clot and the time taken to clot.
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) – To detect proteins
- Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) To detect viral RNA
- Viral antigen testing- This checks the presence of the viral antigen)
- Liver function test
- ELISA and PCR are two best methods to detect the Ebola virus during the early stages of the disease. Detection of the antibodies against the virus is reliable only in the later stages of the disease or after recovery.
Treatment of Ebola Disease
We all know that there is no cure for Ebola Fever till now. No antiviral drug was effective against the Ebola virus. Thus, till now the only management options we have is to give medicines for symptomatic relief but not Ebola treatment. There is no single drug present around the globe which provides Ebola Treatment. These medicines will provide supportive care to the Ebola victim. In this case, the Ebola victim is severely ill. So, he/she is provided with intensive supportive care and intravenous fluids or oral rehydration solutions. In the hospital, the supportive care provided is as follows
- Rehydration by providing the fluids either intravenous or oral
- Controlling the blood pressure within the normal range
- Blood replacement
- Providing oxygen
Treatment of secondary infections
Prevention of the complications such as liver failure and pneumonia.
Prognosis of Ebola virus disease
According to the reports of the World Health Organization Ebola Disease proves to be fatal to about 80 percent of the cases and death occurs after 6 to 16 days of the appearance of the first symptoms. Most of the death occurs due to the organ failure, loss of blood or drop in the blood pressure. In some case, recovery begins after 7 days to 14 days of the appearance of the first symptom. However, even after surviving muscle pain, joint pain, inflammation of the liver, weakness, vision problems, decreased appetite and decreased hearing develops.
Prevention of Ebola Disease
We all know that the Prevention is better than cure. So, the only way to prevent the disease is to avoid any contact with the virus. We can achieve Ebola Prevention by following some precautions. They are
- In the case of the outbreak of the disease, better avoid traveling to the areas of Ebola outbreaks. In the case, you cannot avoid traveling to such places practice steps discussed below
- Frequently wash your hand with soap and water. In the case of unavailability of soap and water, you may also use alcohol-based Sanitizers containing 60% alcohol.
- Maintain basic hygiene
- Drink pure water. Boil them if possible.
- Cook the meat thoroughly.
- Avoid eating bush meat.
- Prevent any contact with people infected with Ebola virus.
- If you are a healthcare worker, wear gloves, gowns, eye shields, masks and other protective clothing.
- Whenever a person is Ebola positive, It is better to isolate the person from the public as soon as possible to avoid transmission of Ebola Virus.
- The infected person should avoid any kind of sexual contact. The doctors and other medical experts should promote the usage of condoms. The Ebola Victim, who got perfect treatment and can lead a normal life also should ensure the semen test negative twice before the intercourse.
- The physicians and medical experts should dispose of the needles carefully. Also, they should sterilize all other instruments properly necessary for the treatment.
- The experts should handle the Burials of the dead bodies which have Ebola viral infection using appropriate safety measures and equipment.
- It is better to seek prompt medical help in the case you develop symptoms similar to Ebola, suspects Ebola or as soon as you comes in contact with the person infected by the Ebola virus.
Ebola Prevention is not possible as it does not have any antidote. But, you can follow some precautions to avoid the Ebola Disease or Ebola Fever.
Till date, there is no specific treatment that proves to neutralize the Ebola virus. Also, there is no vaccine to treat Ebola Fever. But a range of drug, immunological and blood therapies are under development along with the evaluation of 2 potential vaccines.
The drug Zmapp is showing some promising results. But, we should still evaluate its safety, efficacy, and effect on the human health. Thus, it is very important to raise awareness about the preventive measures to reduce the outbreak of Ebola infections. The most successful key to controlling the outbreaks is community engagement. That is applying intervention package, Rapid detection of the case, case management, contact tracing, surveillance, proper laboratory services, social mobilization and safe burial. Check our space for Latest News on Ebola Disease.