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The Ebola Virus

The Ebola Virus The Ebola virus (family Filoviridae) responsible for a severe and often fatal haemorrhagic fever; outbreaks in primates as well as in humans have been recorded. The disease is characterised by extreme fever, rash, and profuse haemorrhaging. Fatality rates range from 50 to 90 percent. (1) Ebola was regarded as an epidemic in 1976 when it was discovered along the Ebola River in Zaire. The outbreaks moved throughout Zaire and The Sudan.

In 1995 there was another epidemic in Zaire which resulted in hundreds of deaths as did the earlier epidemics. (2) People who contracted the Ebola virus will notice symptoms 4 16 days after they contract the virus. An infected person will suddenly be hit by severe headaches, muscle aches and loss of appetite. Within a few days the virus causes a condition know as disseminated intravascular coagulation. This condition is marked by both blood clots and haemorrhaging. In the case of Ebola fever, clots are concentrated in the liver, spleen, brain, and other internal organs, forcing capillaries to bleed into surrounding tissue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea with blood and mucus, conjunctivitis, and sore throat soon follow.

A maculopapular rash (discoloured elevations of the skin) appears on the trunk and quickly spreads to the limbs and head. The patient is then beset by spontaneous bleeding from body orifices and any breaks in the skin, such as injection sites, and within the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and internal organs. Death is usually brought on by haemorrhaging, shock, or renal failure and occurs within 8 to 17 days. (3) Like most viruses, Ebola is usually carried by animals, especially rodents. Ebola can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, body fluids, and possibly urine and respiratory secretions.

The virus has also been detected in the organs of patients after recovery from the fever. Unsanitary conditions and lack of adequate medical supplies have been a factor in the spread of the disease. (4) As of yet there is no known cure or treatment for the Ebola Virus. Current therapy consists of maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance and administration of blood and plasma to control bleeding. The spread of the virus can be contained by barrier nursing, handling of infected blood and tissue in isolated laboratory units, and proper decontamination of reusable equipment.

(5) There were no statistics available on the Ebola Virus but for each outbreak there has been, at least 300+ people have died each time. (6) Ebola is usually passed through contact with infected blood and body fluid. In some cases the virus has become airborne but has been contained. (7) If you are not living in Zaire near the Ebola river the chances of you contracting Ebola are so remote it isnt even worth considering. But if you did contract it while on a holiday in Africa, the best thing would be to keep away from everyone and ring health authorities as soon as possible.