It is a deadly virus because it damages the immune system and almost every organ in the body when it infects the body.
Ebola is a viral disease. The Ebola virus also causes bleeding inside the body, and this bleeding becomes severe and uncontrollable.
This disease is known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
The Ebola virus belongs to the family of viruses called Filoviridae and includes three genera, the cave virus, the Marburg virus, and the Ebola virus.
Recurrent outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever have been observed in several countries in equatorial Africa in recent years.
When these rampant outbreaks occur in remote areas where medical support systems are in short supply and timely diagnoses are considerably challenging, the results are devastating.
Additionally, there are many technical and logistical difficulties related to launching proper diagnostic support, as these regions are fraught with cultural differences and sometimes hostile behavior.
The Ebola virus belongs to a group of deadly viruses that cause internal bleeding and organ failure and, in severe cases, cause death.
Ebola, along with the Marburg virus, comes from African countries, where they can cause sporadic outbreaks from time to time.
These viruses choose their host like animals and even humans, and viruses can spread rapidly through contaminated needles and body fluids.
There is no medicine available to destroy the Ebola virus.
The strain of the Ebola virus recently found during the outbreak is the deadliest compared to the previous ones.
It is called “Ebola Zaire,” which can kill almost 9 out of 10 infected people if advanced medical treatment is not provided.
The first case of the Ebola virus was detected in 1976, and the current collapse appeared in Central Africa in 2014 and was the largest Ebola outbreak ever.
The death rate from Ebola hemorrhagic fever is approximately 50 to 60 percent.
The recent Ebola outbreak occurred in rural and urban areas of Africa.
Ebola has also spread to other countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. These countries have weak health systems.
Causes of Ebola
The Ebola virus spreads from animals to humans; it is a zoonotic virus.
It is spread to people through close contact with infected animals such as chimpanzees, monkeys, forest antelopes, and gorillas.
The Ebola virus can be spread through the fluid or blood of the animal.
Human-to-human transmission is possible in the Ebola virus.
It is spread from one individual to another through sexual contact and other bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, vomit, feces, blood, and breast milk of the infected patient.
The Ebola virus can be transmitted to healthy people through exposure to infected objects such as needles or other medical equipment.
Initially, the Ebola virus was found in African animals such as monkeys and chimpanzees.
The mode of transmission of the virus can occur in two ways.
Of the animals
When a person comes into contact with infected animals, they can become infected with the Ebola virus.
Anyone who eats the products of infected animals can contract the virus.
Scientists who work with infected animals have a chance of becoming infected.
People who handle infected animals’ feces and waste products can also become infected.
Of the humans
Until the infected person shows any symptoms, they will not transmit the infection.
People become contagious once they begin to develop symptoms.
Doctors and other health personnel can become infected when dealing with infected patients if they do not wear protective gloves and masks.
Ebola virus infection can spread rapidly to others through contaminated needles when the same needle is used for other patients after treating the infected person.
As many imagine, the Ebola virus will not spread directly through the air, water, or food.
An individual can be contaminated with viruses through direct contact with the skin of infected animals, by eating undercooked meat from infected animals, or by handling such animals without using any protection.
Even after complete recovery, the Ebola virus can be found in semen for a few months.
Therefore, you should follow your doctor’s instructions to avoid having sex until it is recommended as safe for you to have them.
If you have a robust immune system, your chances of getting an Ebola virus infection are low.
People who often travel to Africa, particularly in regions where outbreaks occur, and people who work in research departments of animals infected with the virus.
Also, people who have contact with patients infected with the Ebola virus and people who care for the mortal remains of infected people and animals have a greater risk of contracting the Ebola virus infection.
Often, the Ebola virus can be fatal if there is a delay in receiving treatment.
It can cause internal bleeding, organ failure, delirium and hallucinations, seizures, and, in severe cases, can lead to coma.
Some people make a full recovery after the Ebola virus disease, but it can take several months to regain their former vigor.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever symptoms begin to appear within 5 to 10 days after exposure to the Ebola virus.
The Ebola virus can cause its initial symptoms after five days of infection and can develop fever, chills, extreme fatigue, severe headache, and pain in the body.
The infected patient can fully recover if he has an excellent immune system, if he is diagnosed in time and if he receives the appropriate treatment.
If no treatment is given, symptoms can worsen and cause skin rashes, impaired kidney and liver functions, nausea, vomiting, severe and bloody diarrhea, weakness, chest tightness, muscle aches, stomach aches, and sudden weight loss.
In advanced cases, it can cause internal bleeding and cause profuse bleeding from the eyes, nose, gums, and ears, eventually leading to death.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever can be suspected in a person with a fever and a history of travel to an endemic area. However, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause based solely on initial and nonspecific symptoms.
Febrile, acute, and severe illnesses such as typhoid fever, malaria, chikungunya, yellow fever, leptospirosis, relapsing fever, and meningococcal septicemia are represented by a wide range of causes in endemic areas of the Ebola virus.
To make the diagnosis, blood tests are done to identify whether or not the Ebola virus is present in the blood.
Antigen capture screening tests, electron microscopy, serum neutralization tests, and the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay are performed to detect the Ebola virus.
The following blood test results verify the presence of the Ebola virus:
- A low platelet count.
- An increase in liver enzymes.
- An abnormal white blood cell count.
When a patient exhibits early symptoms of the Ebola virus and is in contact with blood or body fluids, isolation and reporting as part of preventive measures is the duty of public health professionals.
Samples taken from the patient are kept for confirmation of infection in other laboratory tests.
Moreover, they are generally carried out in national and international reference centers.
Laboratory diagnosis of Ebola is made in two ways: by detecting infectious particles (or components of particles) in affected individuals and by measuring immune responses that are specific to the Ebola virus.
The main methods for diagnosing an acute infection are represented by real-time polymerase chain reaction assays and the antigen detection assay.
From the third day after the onset of the disease, it is possible to detect the viral antigen and nucleic acid in the blood.
Antibody detection is generally carried out with tests two days after symptoms have appeared.
A finding of positivity for an increase in titer represents convincing presumptive evidence for the diagnosis of Ebola.
On the other hand, a decrease in IgM or a four-fold increase in IgG titers (and sometimes both) in successive paired serum samples suggests recent infection.
Treatment is critical and should include clotting factor replacements if disseminated intravascular coagulation develops.
Treatment must be administered under strict surveillance and in isolation conditions.
Body fluids such as blood, saliva, urine, and feces must be handled with great care, as these contain infectious virions.
At present, there is no available therapy that has demonstrated specific efficacy in treating Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever.
Although there are no commercially available Ebola vaccines yet, an antibody has been shown to possess neutralizing activity against the Ebola envelope glycoproteins.
Treatment strategies today are essentially symptomatic and supportive.
These treatments include isolation, fluid replacement, preferably intravenously, the administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and antipyretics and analgesics.
This supportive care and administration of medications are prescribed to the infected patient only to alleviate the symptoms of the Ebola virus.
Medications to control blood pressure, blood transfusions, oxygen supply, and prevention of other infections may also be given.
Complications must be treated appropriately, especially kidney failure, brain edema, bleeding disorders, secondary bacterial infections, and shock.
Strict biohazard barrier nursing procedures and patient isolation have successfully decreased transmission in the hospital setting.
Various methods have been developed to ensure barrier nursing, proper disposal of waste, and other essential components at low cost and practically in Africa, with field-tested manuals available.
In healthcare systems developed with adequate isolation units, appropriate intensive care treatment is advised and directed toward maintaining adequate blood volume, electrolyte balance, and normal oxygen levels.
Tips for prevention
- It would help if you were careful when visiting areas of severe Ebola virus outbreaks, taking precautions.
- Health professionals such as doctors, technicians, nurses, and others who care for patients infected with Ebola should take extreme precautions and protective measures, such as frequent hand washing, sterilized instruments, and protective masks and gloves when they come into contact with an infected person.
- Eating undercooked bushmeat should be avoided because there is a possibility of contracting the infection.
- Direct contact with the body fluids of infected animals and patients should be avoided.
- Proper and careful hygiene must be ensured.
- I was using soap or hand sanitizer after visiting people infected with Ebola.
- Always wear fully covered protective clothing when in contact with contaminated people.
- Avoid handling the infected person’s clothing, bedding, or other medical equipment.
- Floors and other surfaces that are in contact with the fluids of Ebola patients should be cleaned with bleach solutions.
- In hospitals, people infected with Ebola must be isolated from other patients.
- The handling of a corpse of a person infected with Ebola should be avoided.
So far, no vaccine has been developed against the Ebola virus and the Marburg virus.
Some experimental treatments have been applied to animals but without success.