Ebola disease has been quick in making to news worldwide. Look up your news feed and you will find at least one disease related article every alternate day: new outbreaks, strategy reassessment to combat the Ebola disease, Ebola treatments and many such others.
So what is Ebola virus and how deadly is it? Knowing the reach of the virus spread and growth intensity alone can be unnerving. March 2014 is when the latest outbreak, in West Africa, is known to have taken place. A¬s of November 2014, countries that have suffered widespread transmission are from Central and Western Africa: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, that have 14068 (Nov 9 updated) total cases, 8688 Laboratory-confirmed cases, and 5157 deaths.
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Two countries with initial cases/localized transmissions: United States, that registered its first Ebola case Sep 30, 2014, and West African country Mali, have: total cases 8 (four for US), 6 lab cases (four in US), and 5 deaths (one in US).
What is Ebola virus disease: A brief background, causes of Ebola virus:
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is an acute, serious illness which is left untreated can be fatal. Nzara, Sudan, and Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo are the two places where EVD was first ever recorded; the year was 1976. Ebola disease takes its name from Ebola River in northern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Fruit bats of a particular family ( Pteropodidae) are thought to be natural Ebola virus hosts, and introduction of virus into human population is credited to close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals like gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, fruit bats, forest antelope and porcupines.
Ebola disease within human population can be caused or spread via direct contact:
1. Through broken skin or mucous membranes (in eyes, nose or mouth), with an infected person’s blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids 2. With contaminated surfaces and materials, e.g. infected clothing, needles and syringes 3. With infected fruit bats or primates (apes or monkeys) Ebola disease is NOT an airborne and waterborne disease, and as can be seen from above can only be transmitted through blood/fluid contact through broken skin or mucous membranes. Blood, semen, breast milk, faeces, and vomit are some of the common known transmission media. Ebola virus is also thought to be transmitted from infected deceased persons. It is important to understand that people, whether alive or deceased, remain infectious so long as their body fluids or blood contain the virus.
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Ebola disease symptoms:
The incubation period which is the time difference between virus infection and showing of Ebola disease symptoms is two to 21 days. The average time frame when the symptoms usually start showing is 8-10 days. First set of Ebola disease symptoms may include: sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat
Followed by: vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function. Sometimes both internal and external bleeding can occur, for example, oozing from the gums, blood in the stools. Low white blood cell and platelet counts, increased liver enzymes may also be Ebola disease symptoms.
Treatment, Further knowledge on Ebola virus disease:
Generally any infecting virus requires a host cell where it can grow and take over. The growth or the spread of such viruses to other host cells happens by replication. A human body normally responds to virus by producing antibodies that helps clear and eliminate the virus spread and growth. In case of Ebola, as unlike infections like flu, the problem is that Ebola virus spreads very rapidly, with such intensity which human body or precisely its immune system fails to handle. As yet, there is no direct but symptomatic treatment available. Experimental vaccines treatments for Ebola are under development but not yet fully tested for safety or effectiveness. It is not yet known whether a patient recovered/-ing from Ebola disease become immune for life or immune from other Ebola species (there are in total five Ebola species out of which four are known to affect humans). But what is believed to be true is that a recovered/-ing patient could gain immunity from the affected/-ing species of Ebola virus for 10 years and more. It is also essential to know that although the patient may have recovered from the disease, he can still spread the virus through semen for up to three months from recovery.
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