Ebola Descriptive Essay
Disease caused by Ebola virus formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe frequently fatal disease in humans. The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and disseminated among the people from person to person. The average fatality rate of Ebola is about 50%. During the previous outbreaks fatality rates ranged from 25% to 90%. The first outbreaks of the Ebola virus have occurred in remote villages of Central Africa in the area of tropical rain forest however the most recent outbreaks have been captured in the large cities and rural areas in West Africa. The involvement of local communities in successful outbreak control is of great importance. The qualitative measures against the outbreaks are based on a set of measures, such as management of patients, surveillance, contact tracing, quality laboratory services, safe burial, and social mobilization.
Keywords: Ebola virus, disease, treatment, infection, symptoms
Ebola virus is a highly dangerous disease which has some strongly pronounced characteristic like severe course, high mortality and the development of hemorrhagic syndrome. This virus causes an acute heavy disease which can be lethal without proper treatment. For the first time the Ebola virus has been detected in 1976 when there was two outbreaks in the same time: in Nzara, Sudan and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The second outbreak was occurred in the village close to the river Ebola from which the disease got its name. Although the previous outbreaks of this disease have affected a small part of the population, in 2014 the Ebola epidemic outbreak spread and affected more than 1,700 people about 900 of whom died. There are two factors of Ebola that are to be kept in mind: it results in heavy mortality and is still uninvestigated (Peterson, 2014). The second fact is quite frightening, because most people do not know what to do if being infected.
Ebola virus falls into the Filoviridae family of viruses which also includes Lloviu and Marburg. In the world there are 5 types of these viruses: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston, and Tai Forest. The first three of them belong to Ebola virus and are associated with large outbreaks in Africa (Draper, 2002). The virus that caused the outbreak in West Africa in 2014 belongs to the species of Zaire.
The viruses that quickly and naturally kill its prey fill people with fear, though they are not considered the most insidious. The death within a couple of days is terrible, but it is inefficient way to spread the disease for the viruses. Thus, historically the high speed viruses like Ebola would quickly burn themselves and get back to the primary source, while such slowly emerging viruses as HIV/AIDS spread around the world.
The scientists believe that the cause of Ebola virus reappearance lies in the maintenance of the bats’ population in central and western Africa. The asymptomatic fruit bats transmit the disease to such animals as small antelopes and primates. This type of virus has not spread in the places where these animals are absent. Ebola have broken into the human population as a result of their close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected animals. However, brisk trade of bushmeat including bats, monkeys, and rats occurs in many parts of Africa, as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, single infected animal could start the whole Ebola virus epidemic in 2014. Besides, the funerary ceremonies where the mourners have the direct contact with the body of the deceased person can play a significant role in the transmission of the Ebola virus.
Incubation period of the virus (time interval from virus infection to onset of symptoms) ranges from 2 to 21 days. People become contagious with the appearance of the symptoms. The first symptoms are the sudden appearance of fever, muscle aches, headache, and sore throat. They are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, renal and liver failure, and, in some cases, hemorrhage both internal and external (for example discharge of blood from the gums, blood in stool).The laboratory findings show the low levels of white blood cells and platelets as well as elevated liver enzymes (Quammen, 2014).
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People are contagious as long as their blood and excretion including the seminal fluid and breast milk contain viruses. People recovered from illness can continue to transmit the virus up to 7 weeks after recovery through the seminal fluid.
In order to confirm that the symptoms are caused specifically by Ebola virus the following research is to be made (Klenk, & Feldmann 2004):
– The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) by capturing of antibodies;
– Tests for antigens’ detection;
– Serum neutralization reaction;
– Polymerase chain reaction with reverse transcription (RT-PCR);
– Electronic microscopy;
– Virus isolation in cell cultures.
The samples collected from the patients present an extremely high biohazard. The laboratory testing of the samples should be conducted under maximum biological containment.
Talking about the treatment of Ebola virus it is necessary to mention that it does not exist yet. In order to increase people’s survival it is necessary to carry out the maintenance therapy with intravenous administration of fluids and to treat the particular symptoms. However, currently a number of potential means of treatment including blood products, immune and drug therapies are under evaluation. While there is no licensed treatment which would be confirmed by the scientists as a means of the virus neutralization, a number of therapies, for instance, blood, immune, and drug therapies are developed.
The USA has also conducted a number of studies for creating a vaccine against the virus. Several types of treatment procedures have been made on the basis of already infected people. This method relies upon the concept that antibodies against Ebola virus (proteins developed by defense system of a person in reaction to the dangerous intruders) may assist the body in fighting infection. Therefore on this basis special serum has been created.
The serum is a part of blood that contains antibodies. In the past during the outbreaks of Ebola virus it was taken from people who have experienced Ebola virus but are no longer contagious. However their blood still contains high level of antibodies against the virus.
The scientists insist on the necessity of the Ebola virus prevention. Raising awareness about the risk factors of the Ebola virus infection together with personal protection measures are the effective ways of reducing the transmission of the disease among the people.
In order to reduce the risks of the Ebola virus people should be focused on the following factors (Alton, 2014):
- Reducing the risk of infection transmission from wild animals to human beings through the contacts with infected fruit bats and monkeys/apes, consumption of its raw meat. It is necessary to wear gloves and other appropriate protective clothing during the work with animals. Before eating the food (blood and meat) it is necessary to cook it thoroughly.
- Reducing the risk of infection transmission from person to person as a result of direct or close contact with people who have the Ebola virus symptoms, especially with liquids of their organism. It is also necessary to wear gloves and appropriate personal protection clothes for the persons caring for the patients in house conditions. After visiting patients in hospitals or nursing the patients in house conditions is necessary to wash the hands regularly.
Containment measures of the outbreaks include (Jones, 2014):
- fast and safe burial of deceased;
- identification of the individuals who can have the contact with anyone from the Ebola virus infected;
- monitoring of the health status of those people who have had the contacts with patients during 21 days;
- importance of the separation of healthy and sick people in order to prevent further transmission;
- importance of appropriate hygiene and maintenance of cleanliness;
- health care providers should always follow standard precautionary measures caring for the sick regardless of the presumptive diagnosis. The measures are the following: the basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, using of personal protective equipment, the implementation of safe injection and safe burial of the deceased.
Medical workers must protect their faces (using the front panel or medical mask and glasses) and wear clean non-sterile gown with long sleeves and gloves (for some procedures – sterile) through the close contact (closer than one meter) with the sick person infected by Ebola virus. Laboratory workers are also at risk. The samples taken from people and animals for the diagnostics of the Ebola infection should be handled by well-trained staff in suitably equipped laboratories.
World Organization of Health aims to prevent the outbreak of the Ebola virus providing surveillance of the disease caused by Ebola virus and providing support by developing plans to the countries which are under the risk (Wilson, 2014).
In the event of the Ebola virus outbreak, the World Organization of Health reacts by supporting the implementation of the surveillance, involvement of local communities, management of patients, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logistics support, training and assistance in the application of the burial safe methods.
Ongoing outbreak in West Africa (the first cases were recorded in March 2014) is the largest and most complicated Ebola outbreak since the detection of the virus in 1976. During this outbreak significantly more people become infected and died as compared with the rest of the outbreaks taken together.
According to the worst scenarios of virus development, by the end of January 2015 the number of people infected by Ebola virus could increase at 100 times up to 550 thousand people. In case any steps are not undertaken to limit the scope of the current outbreak of the deadly virus, the number of infected people will make hundreds of thousands in less than six months.
In general, according to the opinion of World Organization of Health the Ebola virus continues to spread rapidly in the territory of Western Africa and it is very important for everyone to observe the safety precautions in order to avoid this terrible infection.