Definition: The viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by Ebola viruses is Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) or simply Ebola. Signs and symptoms usually start with fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash, along with reduced liver and kidney function, between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus. Some individuals start to bleed both internally and externally at this time.
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- The disease has a high risk of death, with an average of around 50 percent killing between 25 and 90 percent of those infected. This is also attributed to low blood pressure due to lack of fluid, which normally follows six to sixteen days after symptoms appear.
- The virus spreads by direct contact with body fluids such as; blood from infected humans or other species. Spread can also occur through contact with objects recently contaminated with bodily fluids. The airborne spread of the disease among primates, including; humans, has not been recorded under either laboratory or natural conditions.
- Other diseases may be similar to EVD such as; malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, meningitis, and other viral hemorrhagic fevers. To confirm the diagnosis, blood samples are examined for viral RNA, viral antibodies, or for the virus itself.
- Ebola hemorrhagic fever mortality rates are high, ranging from 50 percent to 90 percent, with death typically resulting from shock instead of blood loss.
It contains single-strand, non-infectious RNA genomes.
EVD is caused by Ebola Virus. It is an RNA virus of the family Filoviridae and there are five species of Ebola virus named after their original site of the outbreak:
- Zaire Ebola virus
- Sudan Ebola virus
- Bundibugyo Ebola virus
- Tal Forest Ebola virus
- Reston Ebola virus
- Zaire Ebolavirus is the most virulent strain and it is implicated in the current epidemic.
(a) Reservoir of Infection:
- Bats, Plants, arthropods, and birds.
(b) Source of Infection:
- The most infectious body fluids are blood, feces.
- Urine, semen, and breast milk.
- Saliva and tears.
Host factors are characteristics found in a person that may influence their disease susceptibility. In recent studies, certain host factors have been identified as having a role in EBOV infection such as; cathepsin B, heat shock 70 KDa protein 5, and STAT 1.
Studies have shown that low temperature and high humidity favor Ebola virus infection.
- The incubation period for Ebola is the period between an Ebola virus infection and the beginning of symptoms associated with the disease.
- Incubation period for Ebola is 2 to 21 days.
Mode of Transmission
Ebola virus transmission between humans can occur through:
- Direct contact with infected people’s blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids via broken skin and mucous membranes.
- Indirect contact with a contaminated environment such as fluids.
- Exposure infected items like needles.
- Exposure to the semen of the people with Ebola or who have recovered from the disease (virus can still be transmitted through semen for up to 49 days after recovery from illness).
- Contact with patients with suspected or confirmed EVD.
- No evidence is available that Ebola can be spread through insect bites.
Symptoms of Ebola Virus
Headache, joint pain, fever, muscle pain, sore throat, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain rashes, internal and external bleeding in many patients.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is one of the most commonly used diagnostic methods.
Prevention and Control of Ebola Virus
- No particular treatment exists for Ebola virus disease.
- Treatment is mostly supportive and requires avoiding invasive procedures, balancing fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration.
- Administration of anticoagulants to prevent or control disseminated intramuscular coagulation early in the infection.
- Administration of pro-coagulants to control bleeding late in the infection.
- Maintaining levels of oxygen, treating discomfort, and using drugs to treat secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
- Early care will increase the possibility of survival.
- Studies are ongoing on a variety of experimental therapies.
- Avoid direct contact with people with signs and symptoms such as; persistent high fever, red eyes, vomiting, and stomach pain.
- Stay away from bats, monkeys, and animals that are dead.
- Avoid handshaking.
- Wash your hands with water and soap.
- Washing hands frequently.
- Avoid eating wild animal meat.
- Follow infection control procedures.
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