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Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

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Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), today common called as Ebola virus disease (EVD), is a serious and often fatal viral infection. It is one of the viral hemorrhagic fevers that has a fatality rate of about 90%. The Ebola infection is very common in remote Central and West African villages as well as tropical rainforest ares. The virus spreads to healthy people through contact with infected wild animals and infected people. The natural hosts for the Ebola virus is thought to be fruit bats. The virus is so contagious that it can spread through improper handling of dead infected people bodies. Infected people need treatment and there is no specific treatment or vaccine to cure and prevent Ebola disease.

Overview of ebola

Ebola disease first made an appearance in 1976 in two villages with simultaneous outbreaks. These villages include Nzara, Sudan and Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. Yambuku is situated near the river Ebola and thus, the disease was so named.

Ebola virus belongs to the Filoviridae family. There are five distinct species of the Ebola virus that includes:

  • Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV) [causes outbreaks in Africa]
  • Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)) [causes outbreaks in Africa]
  • Reston ebolavirus (RESTV) [found in Philippines and China and does not cause disease in humans]
  • Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)) [causes outbreaks in Africa]
  • Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV) [found near Ivory Coast, West Africa]

Transmission of Ebola

Ebola virus spreads through contact with blood, body secretions, organs or other bodily secreations of infected animals by humans. People in Africa who handle or come in contact with infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, antelope, porcupines or fruit bats that are either sick or dead due to an Ebola infection.

Then, the virus spreads through human-to-human contact within the community. This can occur by direct cotact with blood, body secretions or indirect contact with things infected with the body fluids. People coming in direct contact with the dead body during a burial ceremony of an infected person can suffer from an infection. Men who were infected  and cured can transmit the virus in their semen for up to7 weeks after recovery. Healthcare workers like doctors, nurses, etc. coming in contact with infected people and not practicing strict control precautions can also spread the infection.

Signs and Symptoms of ebola

Ebola virus is a deadly virus that spreads by exposure to infected bodily fluids and secretions. The symptoms include:

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In some people, symptoms include:

  • Maculopapular rash
  • Petechiae
  • Purpura
  • Hematomas
  • Ecchumoses

Bleeding occurs from puncture sites, hematemesis, melena, mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, nose, vagina and gingiva. Death occurs due to:

  • Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS)
  • Hypotension
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Tissue necrosis

Diagnosis of ebola

Ebola viral disease is distinguished from the Marburg virus disease based on the exhibited symptoms. Ebola is confirmed after taking a medical, travel as well as occupational  and any exposoure to wild animals history of the patient. The virus is detected by isolation of the virus or ebolavirus antigen in the patients blood or serum sample. During an outbreak, RT-PCR along with antigen-capture ELISA is carried out.

Prevention of ebola

As Ebola virus is highly contagious and infection, the area where the case is reported is quickly quarantined. In Africa, the isolated villages as well as lack of roads and transportation helps prevent a major endemic. The virus can spread through diarrhea, vomiting, bleeding, etc. Thus, lack of hygienic practices in poor, isolated areas causes an outbreak. So, quarantine of such areas as well as strict barrier nursing procedures is required.

As there is no specific treatment, patients are given supportive therapy. This includes giving electrolytes, maintaining oxygen level, blood pressure and treating any other secondary infection. In serious cases, the disease may prove fatal within 10 days of appearance of symptoms.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 26, 2015

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