Introduction Epidemiology plays a big role in everyday life. Epidemiology owes its name to ‘epidemic’, derived from the Greek epi(on) and demos (population). Epidemics like Ebola that strike as unusual appearances of a disease in a population require immediate investigation, but essentially the same investigative approach applies to diseases in general, whether unusual in type or frequency or present all the time in a population in an ‘endemic’ form. In fact, the same methods are used to study normal physiological events such as reproduction and pregnancy, and physical and mental growth, in populations.
Epidemiology is the study of health and disease in populations (Rodolfo, 2010). Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems . Epidemiology are diseases that can spread rapidly or over an event of time such as Tuberculosis, Influenza, etc. One Epidemiology disease that is accruing right now is Ebola (WHO, 2014).
Ebola virus disease (formerly called Ebola Hemorrhagic disease) is a severe, often fatal, disease in humans and non-human primates caused by the Ebola virus. In 2014, a major outbreak of Ebola Virus spread amongst several African countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia . Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees).
Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Tai Forest virus (Tai Forest ebolavirus); Running Head: Ebola 3 and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.
Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. Another devastating outbreak among humans took place in early 1995 in Kikwit, Zaire, claiming the lives of 250 out of 315 reported patients, an 88 percent fatality rate.
The epidemic ended within a few months, as suddenly as it began; this puzzled scientists, who are still not fully aware of the causes and nature of the virus. Despite the dreadful speed with which the disease killed its victims, scientists were able to contain it with a relatively small number of fatalities. Outbreaks in Africa have continued to occur, some of them severe. A 2007 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo resulted in 264 cases and 187 deaths. Starting in February 2014, several West African countries were hit by the largest outbreak to date, with 3,069 reported cases (both confirmed and suspected) and 1,552 deaths as of August 26(Soraya, 2014).
Every organ and tissue in the body except the bones and skeletal muscles is attack this mean that the infection is systemic. Ebola, like most viruses, mutates often, but that doesn’t mean the way it spreads between people will change. To be very clear: In the history of all viruses, scientists have yet to see a virus mutate so that it goes from spreading via droplets meaning it is carried by infected bodily fluids to becoming airborne. Unlike influenza, where the dried viral particles can travel long distances in the air, Ebola can’t survive without a fluid vehicle, such as saliva, sweat, blood, feces or vomit.
Ebola apparently needs that liquid to jump from one person to another, and liquid Running Head: Ebola 4 can’t travel as far as dry particles in the air (Altman, 2014). Ebola is extremely infectious but not extremely contagious. It is infectious, because an infinitesimally small amount can cause illness. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials . (bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids(WHO,2014). One of the reasons that Ebola is so dangerous is because of its symptoms. The abrupt onset of symptoms follows an incubation period of 2-21 days and is characterized by high fever, chills and myalgia. Subsequent signs of infection indicate multisystem involvement and include gastrointestinal (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), respiratory (chest pain, cough) and neurological (headache) manifestations.
After these initial symptoms, the fever often progresses to cause more serious ones: diarrhea, dark or bloody feces, vomiting blood, red eyes due to distention and hemorrhage of sclerotic arterioles. There is often gastrointestinal bleeding from the mouth and rectum (Feldmann, 2010). These characteristics of viruses have been confirmed to hold true in the case of Ebola by researchers at the Broad Institute who have been analyzing Ebola genes from patients who have died of the disease.
Ebola has a genetic spine that is made up of RNA. Human genomes are built on DNA, so once Ebola infects a human cell, the virus has to translate its genes into DNA language so that it can insinuate itself into the human body and continue to replicate, but even while the virus is replicating Running Head: Ebola 5 and making mistakes while it’s doing so it’s not likely to disturb the most important genes that give it its identity. And those include the genes that make Ebola a virus that’s transmitted by droplets of body fluid (Parker, 2014).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new diagnostic tests that can detect Ebola from blood, urine or saliva samples in as little as an hour. The tests are made by BioFire Defense, a Salt Lake City-based company, and can be used in the company’s FilmArray machine, a device that can look for Ebola virus genes in the blood. In the U. S. , 300 hospitals already use the machine to detect a range of infectious agents.
While quick diagnosis of Ebola is critical to identifying patients infected with the virus and providing them with health care that can save their lives, officials at Doctors Without Borders (Medicines Sans Frontiers, or MSF) say that the BioFire tests do come with some disadvantages in the field. Currently, lab technicians use a gene-based assay to pick up genetic fingerprints of the Ebola virus.
The test takes four hours, but the current technologies can run multiple samples from different patients at the same time, allowing clinics like MSF to test up to 70 people a day. While the BioFire platform can spit out results in one hour, it can only run one sample at a time, so to maintain the high volume of testing at outbreak centers its best to use the longer test, but that could be tricky in the resource- poor settings where Ebola typically emerges.
Each machine costs around $39,000, and the price of each test is about $189(Park, 2014). One of the reasons that Ebola spread so fast because of its location, Africa is not to wealthy so at first many hospital didn’t have many of the protective gear and nurses were working without gloves and masks. It was hard on families, if they had a patient or family members who were dying of Ebola, they couldn’t Running Head: Ebola 6 touch the bodies if they did pass away.
In African culture, customarily, after death they do a body washing, so there’s a lot of touching. Once a person dies, that’s when the viral load is at its peak (Christianity, 2014). The virus has multiple ways of interfering with or avoiding the human immune system. While the virus is busy destroying the human body, the immune system is either still in the process of discovering that there is a problem. The World Health Organization reports that more than 4,900 people have died so far as a result of this outbreak. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.
Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. It isn’t known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems (WHO, 2014). Running Head: Ebola 7.
Reference Rodolfo, S. New York Oxford University Press 2010. Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction. Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, Hawley, H. Bradford, MD, Magill’s Medical Guide (Online Edition), January, 2014 Ebola Tests Fast Tracked By FDA. By: Park, Alice, Time. com, 10/29/2014 Christianity Today. Nov2014, Vol. 58 Issue 9, p58-62. Alice, P. Time (Vol. 184, pp. 22-29). New York. Ebola Tests Fast Tracked By FDA. 10/29/2014 Ebola virus disease, WHO (World Health Organization) September 2014 Retrieved from www. Who. org/ebola CDC 2014 Retrieved from www. CDC. gov/ebola Feldmann, H. & Geisbert, T. W. (2010).