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Ebola virus disease is a disease of humans and other non-human primates which is caused by Ebola virus. It is a deadly disease which has claimed many lives since its first outbreak. The first case of Ebola in Africa was recorded in 1976 with the outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly called Zaire) and Sudan. Ebola got his name from Ebola River, due to the outbreak that occurred in that area.
The latest outbreak of the virus in Africa occurred in 2014 and till recent; people are still being discovered to be infected with this disease. However, it is good to know how it started and the discoveries that have been made. The World Health Organisation has reported a total of 24 outbreaks involving 1,716 cases between 1976 and 2013. But due to the recent epidemic outbreak in West Africa, which by no doubt is the largest, 27,678 cases have been reported resulting in 11,276 deaths as of July 12, 2015.
Different Cases of Ebola Outbreaks In Africa
The Ebola Virus Disease ever to be reported occurred in Nzara, Sudan around June 1976 and the outbreak was caused by SUDV (Sudan Virus). According to World Health Organisation, the outbreak infected 284 people and 151death cases were reported.
Late August in 1976 (same year as the Sudan outbreak) another outbreak of the virus was recorded in Yambuku, a small village in Zaire (former name of DR Congo). This outbreak was discovered to have been caused by Ebola virus “EBOV”. 318 cases and 280 death occurred in Zaire.
In 1979, another outbreak occurred in Sudan, 34 human cases were reported with 22 death cases. Before this outbreak, the outbreak that occurred in Sudan was thought to have been caused by Marburg virus. But discoveries were later made and this new virus was identified and named after Ebola River located near the viral outbreak site in Zaire.
Another Ebola outbreak was not reported until 1994. People might have been thinking that Ebola has gone into extinction within this 15years of no reported cases, but with another outbreak in 1994 their guess was proved wrong. Ebola outbreak was reported in Gabon, with 52 infected cases and 31 death cases, 60 percent death rate. Another outbreak occurred in 1995 with 315 infected and 254 died in DR Congo. 97 human cases were reported between 1996 and 1997 in Gabon. This outbreak was caused by the strain EBOV. 66 of this infected people died.
The strain Sudan virus SUDV caused an outbreak in Uganda, with 425 people infected and 224 people dead. Between 2001-2002 Ebola Virus EBOV caused an outbreak in Gabon and Republic of Congo, with 122 reported cases and 96 death cases. In year 2003, Ebola outbreak occurred in Republic of Congo with a death rate of 90 percent, infecting 143 people and 128 people dead. Another outbreak occurred in Republic of Congo in 2003, 35 infected cases were reported and 29 death cases.
In 2004, Sudan recorded another with 17 reported infections and 7 death cases. Three years later, that is in 2007, another specie of genus Ebola virus was discovered which was tentatively named Bundibugyo. This was confirmed after the outbreak of the virus in Bundibugyo district of Western Uganda. The United States Nation Reference Laboratories and Centers for Disease Control carried out tests on the samples. The WHO confirmed this new species and reported 149 cases and 37 deaths.
Another case was reported on August 17,2012 by the Ministry of Health of DR Congo. In 2014, it also occurred in the DR Congo. The 2014 outbreak was known as the mother of all outbreaks. This outbreak was the largest in history affecting various countries in West Africa. According to CDC, few cases were reported in Nigeria and Mali, with a single case reported in Senegal. However, these cases were contained with no further spread in these countries.
In the month of March 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a major outbreak of the virus in Guinea. In mid August 2014, the situation in Monrovia, capital of Liberia was termed “catastrophic” and “deteriorating”. As of July 12, 2015, W.H.O reported 27,678 suspected case and 11,276 deaths. The largest fatality rate so far, terming the 2014/2015 outbreak the largest in history so far.
The Revelation and Discoveries on Ebola Virus
During the outbreak in DR Congo, Dr. Ngoy Mushola gave the first clinical description of EVD in Yambuku, stating that the illness is characterized with a high temperature of about 39 degres celsius, hematemesis, diarrhea with blood, abdominal pain, prostration with heavy articulations and rapid evolution death after a mean of 3 days.
Different Species of Ebola Virus
Ebola belongs to the family filoviridae and genus Ebolavirus. Researchers so far have identified five species of Ebola virus; four out of which affect humans and the fifth one affect non-human primates. The ones capable of causing disease in humans are Ebola virus (Zaire Ebola Virus), Tai Forest virus (used to be called Cote d’Ivoire Ebola), Sudan Virus (Sudan Ebola virus) and Bundibugyo Virus. The fifth that do not cause disease in human is the Reston Ebola Virus.
The Mode of Transmission of Ebola Virus
It be contracted if a person comes in contact with blood, body fluid or organ of an infected person. Body fluid includes the stool, urine, vomit, sweat and breast milk. It can also be contracted when the soiled clothing of an infected person come in contact with another person’s fluid or through unprotected sex with an infected person. However, W.H.O states that only people who are very sick are able to spread Ebola disease in saliva.
Dead bodies of infected person remain infectious. This virus can also be contracted during unprotected contact with infected corpses. Bats, Monkeys and infected primates are believed to be carriers of Ebola virus. An amazing discovery is that the Ebola Virus can be active in the semen for like 3 months even after recovery and making it transferrable through sexual intercourse within that period.
Signs and Symptoms of Ebola Virus
Signs and symptoms of the virus do appear between two days to three weeks after infection. It starts with high fever, sore throat, headache and muscular pains. Vomitting, diarrhea, rash and depreciation in the functions of liver and kidney follow. Death occurs after six days to sixteen days after the appearance of symptoms due to low blood pressure from loss of fluid.
Necessary Prevention, Precaution and Cure
There is no treatment or cure for Ebola virus disease. However, there are potential drug therapies that are being developed and tested. Diagnosed patients with the virus disease are isolated, where their blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are kept in the normal level and their body organs supported.
Healthcare workers need to avoid contact with body fluids of infected patients by ensuring strict precautions. The equipments, both medical and patient waste and surfaces that have been in contact with body fluids must be disinfected. Educating people and disseminating information about Ebola is another useful precaution. the Virus can be killed with the temperature of 60 °C and above or heating for 30 minutes to an hour. Washing the hands with soap (read more about personal hygiene here) with the use of sanitizers can also prevent Ebola disease. Having protected sexual intercourse is a sure way to prevent contacting the virus.
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