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The Ebola Virus

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The Ebola Virus

Matthew Zamora

Williston State College

The Ebola Virus

Ebola disease, which is also known by other names as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever (EHF) as well as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is a deadly disease that affects humans and all the primates including monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas. Ebola is caused by deadly viruses called Ebola viruses. In biological classification the Ebola virus belongs to the family Filoviridae and genus Ebolavirus.

From the first epidemic in Zaire and Sudan, thousands of different species of animals, vertebrates and non-invertebrates, have been captured around the foci of the outbreak and have been tested. The test results have all been negative to traces of Ebola in healthy non-primates. So for now, no treatment, vaccine, or antiviral therapy exists. The patient can only receive intensive supportive care and hope that they can be one of the fortunate who can survive to control an outbreak of Ebola, you must prevent further spread of the virus. The CDC (Center for Disease and Control) usually sends a team of medical scientists to the area of the outbreak where they provide advice and assistance to prevent additional cases. To limit the spread, they collect specimens, study the course of the virus, and look for others who may have been in contact with the virus. If anyone has been exposed to the virus, they are put under close surveillance and are sprayed with chemicals. The patients are isolated to interrupt person to person spread at the hospitals.

The Ebola Virus has become a wide spread epidemic in recent years here in the U.S, the virus itself has not claimed lives in the U.S until more recent years where it gained national attention because of the sheer ability to pass from one person to another so quick and freely. As a direct result of the virus’s ability to be easily contracted, medical personnel including nurses and doctors were being affected. This suggested to medical researchers that

the virus must be contained in an isolated environment; essentially leaving those affected by the virus to be quarantined. There was much debate in the media by experts, chiming in on whether or not the virus was indeed able to transmit through airborne pathogens, which many argued that it was not able to be contracted via airborne pathogens from one person to another, but much was at risk with little knowledge and experience with the virus.

With such unknown about the virus, doctors have struggled for a while on how to safely eradicate the virus. Outbreaks of the virus first came about in West African villages, where outbreaks of the virus have been more prevalent in previous years. As of now, in a census done by the World Health Organization, 15,177 people have died in that area of the world as of November 11, 2014 It began in Guinea in December 2013 and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Like West Africa, the U.S was taken by surprise by the virus leaving many sceptics debating on the origins of the Ebola virus. In some areas, people have become suspicious of both the hospitals and government. Some of which have been attacked by incensed protesters who believe the hospitals are responsible for the disease or created by the government in an attempt to rid certain populations. Similar belief to how some people believe the acquired immunes deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a man made disease created in an attempt to rid the population of certain people or races that may be deemed as deviant in society. Many of the populations seriously affected by the outbreak are areas of extreme poverty with limited access to soap, running water and other essential resources crucially needed to help control the spread of disease.

In September 2014, President Obama, in an attempt to aid in the fight against the outbreak of the Ebola virus, ordered 3,000 American troops to Africa to help contain it. In doing so, his order was heavily criticized for reasons ranging from the concern for safety of

our troops to the financial burden that the U.S would have to carry at the time of the effort; the cost of the effort would come from $500 million in overseas contingency operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, and the Pentagon has already asked Congress to carry out humanitarian efforts in Iraq and in West Africa. The U.S. has already spent more than $100 million responding to the outbreak and has offered to operate treatment centers for patients.

Although the effects of Ebola have magnified in terms of manifestation on humans in the recent past, the virus has a long history and was first discovered in 1976 in Democratic Republic of Congo, a country in central Africa.  The natural host is believed to be in animals native to African continent. Nevertheless, it is just four of the five strains of the Ebola viruses that are found in these animals and are able to infect humans. Research shows that bats are the most likely host of the disease, and experts warn sternly about consuming birds of any species in an area where the disease has been positively disorganized. Spickler (2014) in regard to this observes that “Antibodies to Ebola viruses and/or viral RNA have been found in a number of bat species in Africa, with a high seroprevalence in several species of fruit bat.” (p. 2). Conversely, the exact natural reservoir host of Ebola is not known.

Ebola has five strains as illustrated in the table below;

Strain

Scientific name

Ebola virus

Zaire Ebolavirus

Sudan virus

Sudan Ebolavirus

Taj Forest virus

Taj Forest Ebolavirus

Bundibugyo virus

Bundibugyo Ebolavirus

Reston virus

Reston Ebolavirus

TRANSMISSION OF EBOLA VIRUS

The means through which the Ebola virus is spread from one host to another is not very clear from research work. Research work, however, shows that the first patient got infected with the Ebola virus as a result of getting into contact with infected animals such as bats and other primates.

Ebola disease spreads from a person to another through direct contact through several methods such as:

  • Contact with body fluids and blood, including saliva, faeces, sweat, vomit, urine, breast milk as well as semen from a person infected by the virus.
  • Sharing contaminated needles and syringes
  • Infections from infected fruit bats or primates
  • Handling of bush meat in Africa also leads to the spread of Ebola virus

Ebola disease is not spread through air, or mechanisms such as water or food, apart from bush meat, which is meat from wild animals hunted for meat especially in some African countries. Insects such as mosquitoes have not shown any evidence of spreading the virus.

People who recover from the Ebola virus cannot spread the virus to other people. Ebola, however, stays longer in semen after recovery. This means men should abstain from any form of sex for a period not less than three months, but if this is inevitable then safe sex should be practiced (Ebola Virus Disease, 2014).

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