Ebola, earlier known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a fatal illness in humans. According to World Health Organization (WHO), ebola outbreaks have fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is new virus that has over 600 succumbing to the disease in Africa. Some of the African nations have closed most of its borders, prohibited public gatherings and announced quarantines of some communities to contain an outbreak of the ebola virus.
Ebola, earlier known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a fatal illness in humans. According to World Health Organization (WHO), ebola outbreaks have fatality rate of up to 90 per cent. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
After transmitting from the fluids of infected animals, the virus spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission. The infection results from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.
Signs and Symptoms
Ebola is a viral illness that is characterised by sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Sometimes, the symptoms are accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function. A patient’s white blood cells and platelet counts become low and liver enzymes increase.
The incubation period, the time from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, varies from 2 to 21 days. As long as blood and secretions contain the virus, people are infectious.
The symptoms of EVD are similar to many health conditions. Before diagnosing EVD, doctors have to rule out conditions such as malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, cholera, leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other viral haemorrhagic fevers that have similar symptoms.
The tests that help diagnose ebola virus infections are as follows.
- antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- antigen detection tests
- serum neutralization test
- reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
- electron microscopy
- virus isolation by cell culture.
Vaccination and Treatment
As of now, there is no licensed vaccine available for ebola. As no specific treatment is available, new drug therapies are being evaluated. Over the years, several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use. Infected are examined under intensive supportive care. The intensive care involves oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.
Ebola can be prevented by ensuring the following ways.
- Avoid direct contact with someone suffering from ebola.
- Ebola virus can be caught by eating meat of infected animals. Avoid eating meat when there is an outbreak.
- Pay heed to hygiene; wash your hands with soap every time you shake someone’s hand during an outbreak.
- Avoid sharing clothes with those suffering from ebola.
- It is better to cover your hands with gloves and make sure that your nose and mouth are properly protected.
- Ebola patients should be reported quickly and given treatment as soon as possible.
Read more articles on Communicable Diseases.
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