The Ebola virus was first reported from the African country, Sudan. This virus infection has become one of the most dreaded diseases in the world of late. The destructive potential of this virus is high with almost 80% of the victims reported dead. The virus has the potential to infect millions of people across the world if proper screening measures are not adopted by the countries of the globe.
Know About Ebola
Ebola virus diseases were earlier known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever and are caused by the virus belonging to Filoviridae family. This is a disease known to spread from animals to humans. The RNA virus infects the wild animals such as gorillas, monkeys, chimpanzees and fruit bats and can also spread to humans. According to World Health Organization, this disease is transmitted through direct contact with the body fluids such as blood, secretions and organs of an infected animal or person. Migratory populations are most likely to get the infection and they may transmit the Ebola virus.
The early symptoms may appear one week after the virus infects your body. The symptoms include headache, fever, rashes, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, body ache, cough, etc. It is difficult to identify the disease in the early stages as the early symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other diseases. The diagnosis is usually made on the basis of tests for antibodies against viral DNA and Ebola.
Within a few days of the patient expressing the early symptoms, the later symptoms appear. Later symptoms include: impaired liver and kidney functions, redness of the eye due to internal and external bleeding, bloody vomit and bloody diarrhea, etc. The patient may experience cardiovascular collapse and finally death.
Who Is At Risk?
The persons with high risk of Ebola infection are family members of the infected persons and the health workers who is in close contact with infected individuals and mourners of the deceased person who have direct contact with the body. People who are handling the meat of the infected animals are also at the risk of exposure to the virus.
The Countries Affected By the Virus
The present Ebola virus outbreak is the largest outbreak reported and is mainly limited to West Africa. The African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Libya has reported more than 1600 cases of Ebola till August 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises to avoid all “nonessential” travel to these West African countries.
The following are some of the most important facts that you should know about the deadly Ebola virus.
1. Ebola Has Higher Fatality Rate
According to the data of World Health Organization, the humans affected by Ebola virus had to succumb to this deadly virus. There are a total of 1,711 cases that have been reported in the present Ebola virus outbreak, out of which 932 people have died because of this virus. All these deaths have been confirmed in Africa. There are chances that foreign nationals who have visited Africa in the recent months could also be a carrier of this deadly virus.
There are reports that even health workers who are treating patients suffering from Ebola to be infected by the virus due to skin contact. Dr. Sheik Umar Khan the head of Ebola virus treatment in Sierra Leone and Dr. Samuel Brisbane, the head of Ebola treatment in Liberia have died recently treating patients suffering from Ebola disease. So, the Ebola virus is a fatal and deadly virus.
2. No Vaccine Yet To Prevent Ebola
The vaccines to prevent the Ebola infections have yet to be tested on humans. The main reason behind this is that there would no person who is willing to get injected with the Ebola vaccines to find out whether he or she does not catch the infection. The vaccines that have been developed so far have found to be very effective in preventing Ebola infections in animals. The research on apes have not been done in a progressive manner, owing to greater restrictions in injecting the vaccine on the apes because of the dwindling ape population and the chances of the apes getting extinct soon.
3. No Cure For Ebola
At present, there is no cure for the Ebola disease. The best treatment that can be given to a person affected by Ebola is intensive supported care by health workers. This can be provided to patients in hospitals under strict and stringent infection control procedures. A health worker is advised to be completed covered from head to toe when dealing with Ebola patients or else they can easily get affected by the Ebola virus just by a skin contact.
4. Medications For Ebola Are Still Under Development
There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved treatments in place for Ebola disease. There is a drug known as ZMapp that was developed in 2014 that is currently being used to treat a couple of American health workers who were infected by the Ebola virus during their stay in Liberia. The drug is an antibody based medication that is produced from plants. There is no experimental theory to prove its effectiveness on Ebola as well as whether the drug is safe for humans or not.
5. Visitors And Tourists To Infected Countries Are At Low Risk
If you need to visit the Ebola virus affected countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Guinea, then the risk that you too will be affected by the Ebola virus is extremely low. The risk of you catching the deadly Ebola infection is extremely low, even if you happen to visit the local areas where the first cases of Ebola were reported. But, it is better to be cautious and try to avoid visiting these cities and do so if it is really necessary.
6. Fatality Rate Is Very High
If you happen to catch an Ebola virus, then it can multiply violently such that there are about 100 million viral particles in a drop of blood. It is not similar to the other deadly virus HIV that remains dormant in a person’s body without causing any symptoms or the disease. The virus has the tendency to pack and infected cell with blocks of viral particles within no time. The virus also has a tendency to kill the host and to find a new one even in the dormant stage. The fatality rate for the Ebola disease is 60%. A person infected with the Ebola disease can die within a week’s time.
7. Ebola Attacks All Parts Of The Body
Ebola virus just needs a host cell to multiply into million of copies and it does not need a particular type of cell to multiply. It does the multiplication job on any body cell that it enters. The virus is found to infect almost all the parts of the body except the bones and the skeletal muscles. The most important target areas of the Ebola virus are the connective tissues of the human body that is responsible for holding the internal organs in its place.
8. Upsets The Immune System
The VP35 viral proteins present in the outer surface of the Ebola virus causes severe disruptions in the immune systems of infected humans. The viral proteins cause interferences in the function of the important components of the immune system and will also limit the movement of the while blood cells. The virus will also make use of the molecules that is released by the immune system to destroy the vascular system and to increase the blood clot formation.
9. Weaken The Vascular System
The new virions that are formed in the host cell will move outside of the cell to affect the other neighboring cells. The host cell will instantly detach from its neighboring cell and will immediately lose its contact with the membrane on which it was resting. The host cells will get destabilized by the new viral particles and this would lead to massive blood loss that would result in fatal death.
10. Avoiding Infection
The following are the ways that you and people associated with treating Ebola patients can stay away from Ebola infection.
- The health workers must follow the infection control guidance recommended by WHO strictly when they travel to Ebola affected areas as well as treat Ebola patients.
- It is important for travelers to be cautious and extra careful when visiting countries that have been infected by Ebola.
- You must not come into contact with patients who have been affected by Ebola disease.
- If you have stayed in areas where there have been reports of Ebola, then you must be well versed with the symptoms that are associated with this disease. If you feel any such symptoms, then you should not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.
- It is advisable for you to seek immediate medical attention if you come into close contact with a person from West Africa with symptoms of cough, fever and vomiting.