Understanding Ebola Virus Disease

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Africa is one of the continents with a largest number of infections. Diseases account for 63 percent of deaths in the African region, with emphasis on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. A part from these fatal diseases, Ebola appears to be the most dangerous which is spreading at a very faster rate mainly in the West Africa

What Is Ebola

Ebola Virus Disease abbreviated as EVD, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is extremely severe and fatal illness in humans with a fatality rate of 90%. This means out of 100 victims of Ebola, only ten can survive under intensive treatment. This disease attacks none selectively victimizing even doctors despite their precautions against it.  The virus has several names according to the place it has been discovered e.g. Sudan ebola virus (SUDV), Zaire ebola virus (EBOV), Bundibugyo ebola virus (BDBV), Taï Forest ebola virus (TAFV) and Reston ebola virus (RESTV). BDBV, EBOV, and SUDV have been associated with large EVD outbreaks in Africa, whereas RESTV and TAFV have not. The RESTV species, found in Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, can infect humans, but no illness or death in humans from this species has been reported to date.

Its History In Africa

The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976, one in northern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Central Africa: and the other, in southern Sudan (now South Sudan). The virus is named after the Ebola River, where the virus was first recognized in 1976, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola has infected more than 1,200 people in three West African countries, and killed close to 700 of them. The outbreak received extra medical attention when two Americans became infected, and a Liberian man with family in the United States died. The outbreak began with just a handful of cases in Guinea in March 2014. Since then, there have been 814 confirmed cases and another 387 probable or suspected across that country, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Latest Ebola outbreak has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and now a recent victim in Nigeria.

Bart Janssens, director of operations for Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders said “This epidemic is without precedent, It’s absolutely not under control, and the situation keeps worsening… There are many places where people are infected, but we don’t know about it.”

 How Ebola Spreads Across Africa

Ebola has the following ways of spreading among others:

  1. Close contact with infected blood, body secretions, semen through sexual intercourse, urine, faeces and vomiting.
  2. Handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

The virus is believed to be able to survive for some days in liquid outside an infected organism, chlorine disinfection, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and detergents can kill it.

Signs And Symptoms

Although Ebola has unique signs and symptoms, it may be easily mis-identified with other diseases such as Diarrhea, Typhoid, meningitis and Malaria. Some of the common signs and symptoms are sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat. These symptoms can appear two to 21 days after infection.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says some patients may also develop a rash, red eyes, hiccups, chest pains and difficulty breathing and swallowing. The early symptoms progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

 Treatment

There are no specific treatments for Ebola. MSF says patients are isolated and then supported by health care workers. This consists of hydrating the patient, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure and treating them for any complicating infections.

What Can You Do To Avoid Ebola Attack

WHO says Routine cleaning and disinfection of pig or monkey farms (with sodium hypochlorite or other detergents) should be effective in inactivating the virus. If an outbreak is suspected, the premises should be quarantined immediately. Culling of infected animals, with close supervision of burial or incineration of carcasses, may be necessary to reduce the risk of animal-to-human transmission. Restricting or banning the movement of animals from infected farms to other areas can reduce the spread of the disease.