Ebola

ebola

With all the news about the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa at the moment, I thought you might like to know a little more about the disease. – Deskarati

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a disease of humans and other primates caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. Typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, some affected people may begin to bleed either within the body or externally. The risk of death among those infected is high.

The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal (commonly monkeys or fruit bats). Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment. Fruit bats are believed to carry and spread the virus without being affected. Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people as well. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. In order to make the diagnosis, typically other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera, and other viral haemorrhagic fevers are first excluded. To confirm the diagnosis, blood samples are tested for viral antibodies, viral RNA, or the virus itself.

ebola1Prevention includes decreasing the spread of disease from other infected animals to humans. This may be done by checking such animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as are wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease. Samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.

There is no specific treatment for the disease. Although Canada has donated up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help battle the disease’s outbreak in West Africa. It comes after the World Health Organization said it was ethical to use untested drugs on Ebola patients. However, experts say supplies of both the vaccine and the experimental drug Zmapp are limited and it could take months to develop more supplies.

Generally efforts to help those who are infected are just supportive and include giving either oral rehydration therapy (slightly sweet and salty water to drink) or intravenous fluids. The disease has high mortality rate: often killing between 50% and 90% of those infected with the virus. EVD was first identified in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The disease typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. From 1976 (when it was first identified) through 2013, fewer than 1,000 people per year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. As of August 2014, more than 1,750 suspected cases have been reported. Efforts are ongoing to develop a vaccine; however, none yet exists. Edited from Ebola virus disease

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