With the national news focusing on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the very real concerns about this becoming a pandemic, I felt this was a relevant topic to explore. This paper will review the history of Ebola, a description of the virus, signs and symptoms, virus transmission, treatment, and finally current statistics. 4 The history of Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, was discovered in 1976 in Zaire near the Ebola River which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ebola is a deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.
There are five different types of strains of the Ebola virus, and four of them are known to infect humans. The four strains are identified as Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, also known formerly as Cote d’lvoire ebolavirus, and Bundibugyo ebolavirus. The fifth strain is called Reston ebolavirus, and has only been known to infect primates. Ebola is a worm like virus which attaches itself to the surface of the cells and invades them.
The virus rapidly replicates and causes the infected cells to erupt sending the infectious virus traveling throughout the body. Once spread through the body, the Ebola virus attacks the immune system using the cells that fight the infection to travel to other parts of the body like the liver, spleen, kidney, and the brain. Additionally, the sudden burst of the cells also causes an inflammatory reaction which is the cause of the sudden flu like symptoms that are the first indication that a person may be infected. Symptoms include fever, severe headaches, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, unexplained 5 bruising or bleeding.
According to the Division of High- Consequence Pathogens and Pathology (DHCPP)symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. The viral symptoms described above are caused by abnormal bleeding and clotting at the same time inside the blood vessels. Overtime, the victim of Ebola will experience internal and external bleeding coming from the eyes, nose, and ears. This catastrophic cascade of events eventually leads to multiple organ failure and death.
As would be expected, the national news is putting most of its focus on the transmission of this deadly virus. Unfortunately, this media frenzy is causing a lot of paranoia about the disease, some of which is unwarranted. Ebola is only infectious when the infected person shows active signs and symptoms. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids and can be passed through broken skin or through the mucus membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). It is very important to understand that the Ebola virus is not airborne or waterborne and thus can’t be transmitted unless there is direct contact of blood or bodily fluids by the infected person with another individual.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has done studies showing that the virus itself can live 6 for several hours and even days on a dry surface at low temperatures and thus the need to quarantine symptomatic individuals as others can touch an infected surface and then touch their mucus membranes and infect themselves. This isn’t that different from picking up any other virus such as the flu that can live outside the body for a given time.
“Currently, there are no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola(FDA OCT. 20, 2014)”. Treatment focuses on supportive therapy. Supportive therapy will be based on the patient’s condition and can be as basic as I. V. hydration or as complex as dialysis and full life support. If the infected person survives and successfully fights off the virus, their bodies create anti-bodies and become unable to pass the Ebola virus. According to the CDC, as of October 24, 2014 there are 6,502 laboratory confirmed cases of Ebola including the 4 in the United States.
As of this same date there have been 4,877 deaths meaning 75% of individuals who have been infected have died. In the United States while our numbers are incredibility small, just 4 patients, our improved healthcare resources have brought our death toll down to 25%. We hope this lasts. Bibliography Centers for Disease Control. CDC. gov October 20, 2014 7 Centers for Disease Control. CDC. gov October 24, 2014 U. S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA. gov October 22, 2014 Cable News Network. CNN. com October 24, 2014.