Africa’s deadly disease: Rare and deadly Ebola

Somewhere in the blistering jungle, in a mysterious green thicket that impedes the sun, lives a fatal disease rarely seen, but always present. A fatal disease that possibly lurked in the forest for perhaps thousands of years before rising 33 years ago in the Congo and earned the name of Ebola (WHO, 2008). Ebola received its name from the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (WHO, 2008). Factors in understanding Ebola include the agents of the disease, vulnerable populations, modes of transmission, control of the disease, cultural, social, and population beliefs of the disease.

Many deadly viruses are known today, but none present a greater threat than Ebola. Agent of EbolaThe Ebola virus is a member of the negative stranded RNA viruses known as the Filoviruses (CDC, 2002). The Filoviruses belong to the family of filoviridae, which can cause severe hemorrhagic fevers in both humans and primates. Ebola is able to and typically will produce a sickness term the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The precise source of the Ebola virus is still unidentified. Ebola is considered a severe biohazard because this disease does not have a vaccine to prevent it nor does Ebola have a cure.

Because so little is known about Ebola the only preventative measures that can be taken is early detection or quarantine of people who are infected. People infected with the Ebola virus are known to have flu like symptoms that include high fevers, muscle aches, and joint pain. Ebola has four subtypes, which all were named for the regions of Africa where they came from and they are as follows: Ebola Reston, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Ivory Coast, Ebola Zaire, of these four only three is notorious to trigger disease in humans.

Ebola Reston is the only known strands that is not lethal to humans and is primarily found in the Great Apes of the Congo region other forms of Ebola Reston were found in pigs in the Philippines (CDC, 2002). Population Vulnerability and Environmental FactorsUpon reading further into the vulnerability and factors that make the African people susceptible to the Ebola virus, one can only hypothesize that an animal must have infected the first human in the original outbreak (Gayer, Legros, Formenty, & Connolly, 2007).

Spread of the Ebola virus is extremely contingent through the primary disease of an individual. This initial infected human in the outbreak of Ebola is called the index case. Once infected with the Ebola virus a patient has the probability of spreading the disease from individual to individual in numerous modes. Ebola’s emergence in Africa is influenced by ecologic, environmental changes and human demographics and behaviors of the indigenous people of Africa.

Protected villages and camps of northern Africa are especially vulnerable to the Ebola virus. Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and malnutrition cause the people of this region to have no resistance to the virus thus escalating the chances for infection and death (De Hoyos, 2000). Poor infection control in African hospitals also lead to ongoing Ebola virus outbreaks and the hospital setting is the main focal point of several recent outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever.

Unsanitary conditions of the African health care system, with the recycling of used needles and the management of multidose vials in hospital settings because of inadequate teaching of safe and sanitary conditions is also a factor for the spread of Ebola (Gayer, Legros, Formenty, & Connolly, 2007). Modes of TransmissionIn African hospitals, for example, where funds and supplies are limited, the infected individual is frequently treated with no the application of essential shields of protection in the form of facial masks, and full body protective gear (Davis, 2005).

Ebola is spread by contact with blood, bodily fluids, and organs of infected people. Improper disposal of infected bodies and organs during burial ceremonies is another mode of transmission of the Ebola virus. Animal to human infestation by means of handling infected primates and forest antelope are other modes of transmission of Ebola, but this is often difficult to pin down as the people of Northern Africa rely on hunting wildlife and eating natural resources like fruits and animals as a means of survival or rituals (WHO, 2008).

Until the scientific community can pinpoint the source of the Ebola virus the ability to contain it will be imperative to prevent a worldwide spread of the virus. Containment and TreatmentThe only identified method of protecting populations from contracting the Ebola virus is early containment. Africa needs to have a means to identify Ebola, unfortunately, this need is slow to arrive and because the last outbreak of Ebola little has changed in the hospital infrastructure for containment and protection of health care workers (Streiker, 1996).

WHO has made some suggestions in helping Africa contain this deadly virus. Suggestions made were isolating suspected patients from the rest of the patient population, following up with villages expected to have been exposed to the virus, educating hospital staff on the handling of blood and other bodily fluids, disinfection of bed linens and patient clothing, and educating the remote villages in proper methods of burial for loved ones (WHO, 2008).

Ebola has no known standard of treatment or vaccine, and currently patients only receive supportive care that consists of balancing electrolytes, replenishing body fluids, maintaining the patient’s blood pressure, oxygen levels, and finally treating any complications of fever or infection, due to the effects of the Ebola virus and hemorrhagic fever (CDC, 2002).

Social and Cultural InfluencesThe severity of the Ebola outbreaks in Northern Africa are difficult to control and treat because of cultural reluctance for treatment, misunderstandings of health care providers, mistrust of local governments and lack of access to infected areas and the constant flow of populations across the African borders. The African government contains the outbreaks of the Ebola virus by closing the borders of surrounding villages that in turn causes mistrust from these secluded jungle villages.

The Red Cross of the Congolese government has only just recently been able to gain access to these remote regions through psychological and material support to the infected patients and families by helping with the burial of corpses, and community mobilization in the surveillance villagers who may have come in contact with the deceased (IFAO, 2003). One may think to themselves that a deadly virus like Ebola is not a big problem, especially because most of the major outbreaks have been contained to the African continent.

One cannot get complacent and begin to think that there would be no possible way that a virus as deadly as Ebola could be anywhere except in Africa. This theory is no longer true as the United States had its own outbreak in early 2000 in the state of Texas (CDC, 2008). The Ebola virus is an extremely deadly virus with no known cure. Not all will die from this virus and not all will catch the virus if exposed to it. This devastating disease has wiped out communities and continuing efforts need to be made in finding a cure or vaccine.

Preventive efforts involve educating people about how the virus is transmitted and isolating infected populations. Ebola rarely gives a victim a second chance.

ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (n. d) (October 8, 2002), Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Disease Information: Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers Fact Sheets, retrieved October 24, 2009, from http://www. cdc. gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/Fact_Sheets/Ebola_Fact_Booklet. pdfDavis, R. Hunt (2005), “Ebola virus. ” Encyclopedia of African History and Culture:

Independent Africa (1960 to Present), vol.5. New York: Facts On File, Inc. , Modern World History Online, retrieved October 25, 2009, from Facts On File Inc, Apollo Library http://www. fofweb. com/activelink2. aspDe Hoyos, Linda (November 2000), Uganda: Ebola could bring death to camps, News and Views on Africa from Africa issue 56, retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://www. peacelink. it/afrinews. htmlInternational.

Federation Assistance Operations (n. d) (2003, 8 December), Emergency Appeal Republic of Congo, retrieved October 25, 2009, from http://www. ifrc. org/docs/appeals/03/2403.pdfGayer M, Legros D, Formenty P, Connolly MA, (2007, November), Conflict and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retrieved October 22, 2009, from http://www. cdc. gov/EID/content/13/11/1625. htmStreiker, Gary (March 10, 1996).

Improve Public Health to Control Ebola: Doctors Seeking Source of Virus, CNN World news, retrieved October 22, 2009, from http://www. cnn. com/WORLD/9603/ebola/World Health Organization (n. d) (December 2008), Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, WHO/ Ebola retrieved October 24, 2009, from http://www. who. int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/.

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola HF) is a severe, often fatal disease. It is known to be one of the most malicious viral diseases known to humankind. The virus can infect both humans and animal such as gorillas, monkeys, pigs, and …

The Ebola Virus is a very dangerous virus. It causes a hemorrhagic fever called Ebola virus disease. ‘Hemorrhagic’ means that the victim infected with the virus bleeds both internally and externally. Out of every 10 people who get the virus, …

Ebola, also known as hemorrhagic fever, is a disease caused by infecon with one of the virus strains. It can cause disease in humans and primates such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. Ebola was $rst iden$ed near the Ebola River …

Somewhere in a sweltering jungle, in a deep green thicket that blocks the sun, lives a killer rarely seen, but always present. One that prowled the forests perhaps thousands of years before emerging twenty-one years ago to earn the name …

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