The Ebola virus was discovered in the late 1970s by the international community as the causative agent of major outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever in Africa’s Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan (Vasilyevich IV, et al. 2005). Immediately, the International scientific teams moved in to deal with these highly virulent epidemics where their findings revealed that the transmission had exponentially ceased; however, the team could not reconstruct a considerable data from the survivors of the epidemic. The high death rate of medical staff resulted to the closure of many medical facilities, thus doing away with major centers for dissemination of infection through the use of untreated needles, syringes and the lack of barrier-nursing techniques. The deadly Ebola virus is killing thousands of innocent people worldwide, but there are steps being taken to prevent the virus from spreading. In 1989, Ebola virus was reported in the United States of America when it appeared in monkeys who were imported into a Reston, Virginia, primate facility outside of Washington, DC.
Epidemics in monkeys which occurred in this facility and others lasted through 1992 (Georges, 1997) and recurred in 1996. Later, epidemiologic studies were conducted in connection with both epidemics and they successfully traced the virus introductions to one Philippine exporter. However, the studies failed to detect the actual cause and source of the virus. Due to political instability, scientists’ attempts to work in the remote areas where the monkeys were seized have been too small. Laboratory studies were stimulated in order to control these introduced virus outbreaks which were realized in 1989 and chimpanzee inbreed in the 1990s in order to improve diagnosis of nonhuman primate infections (Fields, et Al 1996). However, it has not been confirmed since the materials that were necessary to definitively confirm the utility of these techniques for humans were not provided. After Ebola hemorrhagic fever was discovered in Africa between 1976 and 1979, it was not seen again until the year 1994. It is believed by scientists that during this time, possibly it was circulating in its natural reservoir.
On the other hand, the virus might have been causing sporadic human infections that remained undetected because Ebola patients never contaminated medical facilities to produce the savage nosocomial epidemics that brought Ebola virus to medical attention. Between 1981 and 1985, Ebola virus surveillance was carried out simultaneously with intensified efforts to contain monkey pox (Vasilyevich IV, et al. 2005). This surveillance may have identified several cases and estimated the prevalence among the population; however, the findings are subject to caveats because of problems with the validity of laboratory tests. Serosurveillance in 1995 also suggested that human infections may have occurred from time to time. It is believed that the Ebola virus may have initially been transmitted to humans from bats (Renaud AA, et al. 199) Bioinformatics researchers all over the world especially those at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, have found that there is a concrete circumstantial case that says infection by bats is likely, but renowned scientists haven’t actually found strong evidence to support this hypothesis.
During the period of 1994–1996, almost five independent active sites of Ebola virus transmission were identified: Côte d’Ivoire in 1994 ; Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1995 (Georges, 1997) and Gabon in 1994, 1995, and 1996 . The initially known Zaire subtype of Ebola virus and the newly discovered Côte d’Ivoire subtype were both involved in the report, and as in previous African Ebola virus transmissions, the active sites were within or near tropical forests, for instance along riverine forests. Ebola outbreaks have been reported since its discovery in late 1970s. The first outbreak happened in 1976 in the Republic of Congo. The disease was spread by close personal contact.
There were 318 reported cases and 280 of the people died as a result of the virus. Years later in 1995 the Republic of Congo had yet another outbreak. This time 250 of the people infected died. In 2001 in Uganda Ebola appeared out of nowhere. There were 425 reported cases of the virus, 224 of the reported cases ended in death. The biggest outbreak came as of recently, this year. There was a widespread outbreak across West African countries. Over 9,000 reported cases came from this outbreak, 4,800 of the cases resulted in death.
There were some people who came in contact with the Ebola virus that were from the United States. The Ebola virus mainly attacks cells of the lymphatic organs, liver, kidney, ovaries, testes, and the cells of the reticuloendothelial system. A trademark of Ebola is liver destruction. The person infected person with the virus loses a big amount of blood. In some of the deadly cases shock and acute respiratory disorder is prevalent. Some of the victims can be delirious from the high fevers. Many people die from the intractable shock.
Research done on infectious Ebola and Marburg viruses are always done in a maximum biological containment setup popularly known as Biosafety Level 4. Biosafety Level 4 laboratories require extremely specialized equipment to prevent the spread of the pathogens that are investigated in them. Ebola is stable and remains infective at room temperature (20°C), but it is mostly destroyed at 60°C (Fields, et Al 1996) Its’ infectivity is also terminated by gamma and ultraviolet radiation, lipid solvents, ß-propiolactone, and commercial hypochlorite and phenolic disinfectants. Currently there is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola, it is better for prevalent measures be taken as a way of reducing Ebola infections. There are numerous ways to prevent yourself from Ebola. Practice careful hygiene; hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and clean water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Try as much as you can and avoid contact with blood and body fluids from uncertain people.
Avoid handling items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids, such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment carelessly. Some bats are believed to be reservoirs of Ebola Virus and therefore avoid contact with such bats and other nonhuman primates or raw meat prepared from these animals. Tourists and travelers should avoid facilities in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. Healthcare workers who may be handling people infected with Ebola follow certain steps to ensure that they do not come in contact with the virus. It is recommended for one to wear appropriate personal protective equipment including impermeable gowns, gloves, and masks. Before being allowed to care for infected patients all workers must observe proper infection control and sterilization measures. Patients with Ebola must be isolated from other patients following strict contact and droplet isolation procedures.
Members of the heath care team cannot come into contact with blood or body fluids, such as, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is infected with Ebola. People who have been infected and survived the Ebola virus can also spread the virus through semen for at least ninety days after being declared virus free. The symptoms Ebola are fever, diarrhea, vomiting, severe headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle pain, abdominal pain, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. These symptoms are one of the major reasons Ebola is transmitted so easily. These symptoms are often described as “flu-like” or “stomach flu” symptoms and are easily overlooked. The Ebola symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but in most reported cases the average is 8 to 10 days. Ebola is only transmitted when infected persons are actively showing symptoms. Currently there are only supportive treatments available to help care for Ebola patients.
Patients will be given IV fluids to maintain fluid balance as Ebola is known to produce copious amounts of emesis and stool, medications to help maintain and regulate blood pressure, antipyretics for fevers, ventilation assistance for help with breathing, and dialysis if the patient does into kidney failure. There are experimental drugs that have been used in the treatment of Ebola. Drugs such as Z-Mapp and Brincidofovir have been used in patients to help beat the Ebola virus. While some patients have been successfully treated with these drugs it is also important to remember that these drugs could have many side effects and a testing has not been completed so there are still many questions to the safety and efficiency of their use. Before being approved for use in regular populations these drugs must complete clinical trials and be proven safe and effective.
Patients who have survived Ebola have antibodies to the virus for about ten years. During this time they can be a vital source of help for others battling the virus. A donation of life saving plasma from a survivor to an infected person will help the person to begin developing antibodies to begin fighting the virus. To receive plasma the patients must have a matching blood type. Thousands of innocent people have died as the result of the deadly virus. Ebola has been around for over four decades and has really come into the main stream media focus. Ebola has not affected America in the ways that it has ravaged through many of the countries in Africa. To protect our families from this devastating and deadly virus we must practice impeccable hand hygiene and use good sense when travelling especially internationally.
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Medical Journal. 1977;2(6086):541-544. Fields, Bernard, ed. ” Filoviridae: Marburg and Ebola Viruses.” Field’s Virology, Third Edition. Lippincott-Raven: New York. 1996. 1161-1176. Georges AJ, Leroy EM, Renaud AA, et al. Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in Gabon, 1994-1997: epidemiologic and health control issues. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1999;179:S65-75. Khan AS, Tshioko FK, Heymann DL, et al. The Reemergence of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1995. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1999;179:S76-S86. Le Guenno, Bernard, P. Formenty, and C. Boesch. “Ebola Virus Outbreaks in the Ivory Coast and Liberia, 1994-1995.” Ibid. Okware SI, Omaswa FG, Zaramba S, et al. An outbreak of Ebola in Uganda. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 2002;7(12):1068-1075.
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