Ebola

5 mins read

Introduction
Ebola is a viral disease that affects humans and other primates. The disease is also called as Ebola virus disease. The infection is characterized by high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, muscle cramps, headache, and dysfunction of kidneys and other vital organs. The disease first made its presence in 1976. However, in 2014, the disease again spread, only this time on a much larger scale. The outbreak was referred to as ‘unprecedented epidemic’. The disease spreads rapidly by direct contact of blood, secretions such as saliva, sweat, sperm or urine.

Epidemiology
Ebola virus disease is native to Sub-Saharan Africa. However, since its appearance in 1976, the disease has seen few outbreaks, including the 2014 ‘unprecedented epidemic’. Ebola prevalence is predominant in regions, such as Nigeria, Zaire, Guinea, and West Africa. According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 20,000 people were infected and over 6000 people died due to the recent Ebola outbreak.

Causes
Ebola virus disease is caused by the genus Ebolavirus. This includes four types of virus that caused Ebola: sudan virus, ebola virus, bundibugyo virus, and tai forest virus. The virus predominantly is prevalent in monkeys, pigs, and other primates. Ebola occurs when the virus is transmitted from animal carriers to humans. Some of the common reasons are:

Contact With Animal Waste
People working in remote areas are constantly exposed to animal waste. The infection occurs when the person contacts the waste.

Consumption
Many people consume pigs and other carriers of the virus unknowingly. This is one of the most common modes of virus transmission.

Contact With Secretions And Blood
People who work as butchers or who are constantly in close proximity with these people tend to have higher risk of developing Ebola.

Besides, Ebola virus disease is also spread through person-to-person contact. Family members and friends are the most potential targets of infection. The transmission occurs as a result of direct contact with secretions or sexual intercourse (however, rare).

Symptoms
Symptoms appear within 4-10 days of infection. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Frequent chills
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Weakness and fatigue

However, in severe cases, most of the symptoms tend to aggravate, which include:

  • Severe chest pain and discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and stomach ache
  • Vomiting and indigestion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Reddish appearance of skin, with mild to moderate skin rash
  • Severe skin irritation

Treatment Strategies In Ebola
Various strategies have been indicated, however, no specific treatment is specified. The management strategies are supportive in nature and does not treat the condition.Some of the common management strategies include:

  • Although the use of drugs, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and paracetamol is not recommended. These drugs are useful in managing pain and discomfort associated with Ebola symptoms.
  • Blood transfusion for replacing the infected blood cells.
  • Intravenous use of electrolytes, salts, water for managing dehydration.
  • Managing blood pressure and oxygen levels is also recommended in the effective management of Ebola virus disease

Complications
According to WHO reports, Ebola virus disease is fatal in nature. It is associated with 10-30% of the survival rate in patients. Some of the common complications, which complements the lowered survival in patients, associated are:

Severe damage to vital organs like kidneys, liver, lung and spleen

Ebola results in profused bleeding, which is mostly restricted to internal organs and under the skin

People with Ebola disease are often diagnosed with jaundice, seizures, blood pressure shock, coma, and in some cases, death

Severe Ebola virus disease is also associated with increased risk of developing hepatitis, ochritis, uveitis, and chronic respiratory infections

Prevention
It is essential to prevent the contact with the virus due to the unavailability of any specified antiviral. Some of the common preventive measures are as follows:

Social Contact
Family members, friends, and caregivers should exercise precaution in or to avoid direct contact with the infected person. The common modes of transmission are blood, semen, urine, saliva, and vaginal secretions.

Outbreak Regions
It is recommended by various disease prevention agencies to check the epidemiology of the disease prior to traveling.

Consumption Of Animal Meat
Animal meat should be avoided, especially in developing and developed countries. Common carriers of the Ebola virus should be completely restricted for consumption.

Alternative Treatment
Allopathic medicines and colloidal silver are being currently studied for their potential role in the treatment of Ebola virus disease. Cytokines with selenium is found to play a key role in driving the virus out of the blood cells.

Conclusion
Ebola is a viral disease that affects humans and other primates. The disease is fatal and should be diagnosed early. Blood transfusion, electrolytes, and drugs have been recommended in the treatment.

Read More:
Science Says: Single-Dose Ebola Vaccine Has Been Developed
What All Americans Need To Know About Ebola
Science Says: Experimental Ebola Vaccine Found To Be Safe
Science Says: The Ebola Virus Can Be Detected In 10 Minutes By A Paper Strip

References
1. Olupot-Olupot P. Ebola in children: Epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis and outcomes. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2014 Dec 17. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Acharya M. Ebola viral disease outbreak-2014: implications and pitfalls. Front Public Health. 2014 Dec 1;2:263.

3. Lewnard JA, Ndeffo Mbah ML, Alfaro-Murillo JA, et al. Dynamics and control of Ebola virus transmission in Montserrado, Liberia: a mathematical modelling analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Dec;14(12):1189-95.

4. Li H, Ying T, Yu F, et al. Development of therapeutics for treatment of Ebola virus infection. Microbes Infect. 2014 Dec 10. pii: S1286-4579(14)00311-6.

5. Harrod KS. Ebola: History, treatment and lessons from a new emerging pathogen. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2014 Dec 12:ajplung.00354.2014.

6. Chertow DS, Kleine C, Edwards JK, et al. Ebola virus disease in West Africa–clinical manifestations and management. N Engl J Med. 2014 Nov 27;371(22):2054-7.

7. Pathmanathan I, O’Connor KA, Adams ML, et al.  Rapid assessment of ebola infection prevention and control needs – six districts, sierra leone, october 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Dec 12;63(49):1172-4.

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