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Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Jul 14, 2019

   5 min     


What is Ebola virus Disease?

Ebola, also termed as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) or Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal, zoonotic infection caused by a virus of the Filoviridae family (genus Ebolavirus). It is a rare disease which mostly affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). EVD is one type of hemorrhagic fever commonly found in the east, west and central Africa. The disease is caused due to a single-stranded RNA Flavovirus that replicates macrophages, monocytes and dendritic cells. The virus then uses multiple mechanisms to invade its host, including migration to the liver, lymph nodes and spleen, which leads to widespread infection.

An infection causes it with a group of viruses within the genus Ebolavirus:

•  Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus)

•  Sudan virus (species Sudan ebolavirus)

•  Taï Forest virus (species Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d'Ivoire ebolavirus)

•  Bundibugyo virus (species Bundibugyo ebolavirus)

•  Reston virus (species Reston ebolavirus)

•  Bombali virus (species Bombali ebolavirus)

Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River, which is the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the scientists, the virus is animal-borne, with bats being the most likely source. The bats can transmit the virus to other animals, like apes, monkeys, duikers and humans. The virus that causes Ebola virus disease is located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ebola virus spreads to people through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person with EVD. The virus can also spread through direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected bats or primates fruit. The virus can spread through sexual contact too.

How is Ebola virus transmitted?

Ebola is definitely deadly but not as contagious compared to the more common viruses such as colds, measles or influenza. It initially spread among people through contact with an infected animal's skin or bodily fluids, such as of a fruit bat, monkey or chimp. This is called a spillover event. Then it further moves along from person to person in a similar way, affecting a large number of people. Those who take care or look after an infected and sick person or bury someone who recently has died from the virus has high chances of getting it. Other ways to contract the virus include touching contaminated surfaces or needles.

You can not come in contact with Ebola from the air, water, or food. Any person who has the virus but has no symptoms can not spread the virus, either.

The Ebola virus spreads through direct contact with:

  • Blood, urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, and semen of a sick person from Ebola Virus Disease.
  • Needle and syringes contaminated with body fluids from a person sick with Ebola Virus Disease.
  • Infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates.
  • The Ebola virus cannot spread to others until a person shows symptoms of EVD. Ebola virus is not transmitted through food.

Some cases for transmission of EVD are:

  • Health-care workers can be infected with the virus while treating patients with confirmed or suspected EVD. This occurs because of close contact with infected patients in case infection control precautions are not rigorously practised.
  • Burial ceremonies which involve direct contact with the body of the infected patient can also add to the transmission of the Ebola virus.
  • Pregnant women who contract acute Ebola and recover from the disease may still transmit the virus through breastmilk, or in pregnancy-related tissues and fluids. This holds a risk of transmission to the baby they are carrying, and to others taking care of them. However, women who get pregnant after surviving Ebola virus are not at risk of transmitting the virus.

What are the symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease?

Symptoms of EVD may appear from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. Following are the symptoms of EVD:

  • High Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Internal and external bleeding or bruising
  • Symptoms of impaired liver and kidney function
  • Laboratory discoveries include low platelet and white blood cell counts and elevated liver enzymes.

As the disease worsens, it would cause bleeding inside the patient's body, as well as from the ears, nose and eyes. In some cases, people will cough up or vomit blood, get a rash and have bloody diarrhoea.

How is Ebola Virus Disease diagnosed?

It is difficult to diagnose Ebola Virus Disease shortly after a few days of infection. The early symptoms of EVD are not specific to Ebola virus infection and often are seen in patients with more common diseases like malaria and typhoid fever.

If a person shows signs of EVD, then he or she should be isolated. A blood test should be taken to confirm the infection. Usually, it takes up to three days after symptoms start for the virus to reach detectable levels.

How is Ebola Virus Disease treated?

There are no vaccines or cure for the Ebola virus as of now, though researchers are working on it. The only drug treatment which has been approved for treating Ebola is Inmazeb- a blend of three monoclonal antibodies (odesivimab-ebgn, maftivimab and atoltivimab). Other treatments involve an experimental serum which helps in destroying infected cells.

Doctors manage the symptoms of Ebola with:

  • Providing fluid and electrolytes through infusion into the vein
  • Offering oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen status.
  • Taking medicines to treat blood pressure, reduce vomiting and diarrhoea and to manage fever and pain.

How Can You Prevent Ebola Virus?

The best approach to evade the disease is by not travelling to areas where Ebola virus is detected. If you are in areas where the virus is present, try avoiding contact with animals such as bats, gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys, since these animals were the ones to spread Ebola to people. Health care workers can prevent contracting the infection by wearing protective gears like gloves, masks and goggles whenever they come into contact with people who may have Ebola.

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Tags:  EBOLA virus,Transmission of Ebola virus ,symptoms of Ebola Virus,treatment of Ebola Virus,Ebola virus, Sudan virus, symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease, headache, viral fever, diarrhoea, white blood cell, ebola vaccine, malaria, thyphoid fever, Inmazeb

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