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The Ebola Virus

The Ebola Virus By: Wesley Mark Whitworth Ebola is an extremely deadly virus in our society today. Some even claim that is the most deadly ever discovered. Ebola is a member of the filoviruses (a family of RNA-BASED viruses). Filoviruses get their name from their peculiar shape. They appear to be long threads or filaments (henceforth the name filoviruses) *See attached photo. This virus was discovered in 1976 in Zaire, Africa and in Western Sudan, Africa.

During the first outbreak there were approximately 550 cases leading to 340 deaths. Three years after the first outbreak, a smaller outbreak took place in Sudan, Africa. This outbreak was much smaller though, with only 34 cases and 22 deaths. The cause of this virus is still unknown. All that they really know is that the whole simian genus is susceptible to this disease (that includes most all members of the ape, chimpanzee, and various other monkey families).

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It can be carried though, through rodents (mice, rats, etc.), insects (mosquitoes, ticks, lice, etc.), and parasites (small bacteria). This disease is classified as a viral hemorrhagic fever. That means that the disease has very distinct qualities. Ebola starts out as muscle aches, light fever, and your basic flu symptoms. Ebola then progresses to respiratory problems, server bleeding of most all of the bodies orifices, kidney problems, and then death. Basic symptoms include: fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and your other common flu symptoms.

Ebola symptoms usually begin within three to sixteen days after initial contact. Although most cases result in death, it sometimes may appear as just a light flu. It is very contagious. Ebola can be spread by the aforementioned animals, or by personal contact. It also can be spread through sexual contact (even after recovery for a short period). Doctors can detect this virus in much the same manner as they detect tuberculosis.

They check for antigens already present in the body or they can take a throat culture and detect it. Contracting the disease in the United States is highly unlikely though. The only people who are even put at risk are those that visit Zaire or come in contact with people who do. The United States as well as the Zaire government both have strict quarantine policies involving the disease. Anyone who wishes to find out more about precautions and measures that must be taken if visiting Zaire, you may contact the U.S.

State Department at 202-647-5225. They have all the travel information and requirements you need to get into and out of the country.


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