Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a deadly and painful disease that is caused by the Ebola virus. The Ebola virus is first found in 1976 near the Ebola River (which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Ebola primarily infects those in Africa. You can get infected with the Ebola virus through direct contact with a person with Ebola (specifically the mouth, nose, and eyes), contact with body fluids of a person with Ebola (including blood, urine, sweat, saliva, semen, breast milk, and vomit), objects that are used to treat those with Ebola (needles and syringes), and contact with fruit bats or primates that are infected with the Ebola virus.

Handling bushmeat increases the changes of contracting Ebola because you are more at likely coming into contact with infected bats. The only species that have been found to contract and spread the Ebola virus are bats, monkeys, apes, and humans.

Common symptoms of Ebola would include flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches), muscle pain, weakness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and unexplained hemorrhage. These symptoms can appear from two to twenty-one days after contracting an Ebola virus (average is eight to ten days). Because Ebola symptoms are so similar to other common diseases in Africa such as the flu, malaria, and typhoid fever, it is often difficult to diagnose this disease. If one is suspected with the Ebola, a blood test can be administered in order to detect the Ebola virus. However, the blood test is only effective after Ebola-like symptoms occur. Because there is no approved vaccine that can prevent Ebola, doctors treat Ebola patient as they appear.

The main tactic to treat Ebola is to support one’s immune system. This can be done by providing intravenous fluids, maintaining oxygen, balancing electrolytes, and maintaining blood pressure. One’s recovery from the Ebola virus depends on the immune system and whether or not there is a supportive care.

Those who overcome the Ebola virus develop antibodies that can last up to ten years. However, some have also developed some long-term disabilities such as vision and joint problems.

Although there is no vaccine available for Ebola, there are preventative measures to take. Hygiene is important- one must wash their hands with soap and water if they ever come into contact with blood or any other body fluids in Africa. Some other ways to avoid contracting Ebola is to avoid funeral or burial rituals that involve touching the body of someone who has passed from Ebola, avoiding handling items that have come into contact of an infected person (such as medical equipment, bedding, and clothing), avoid contact with bats and primates (included their meat), and avoid any facilities that treat Ebola patients. Because healthcare workers have an increased risk for contracting Ebola due to their job, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is extremely important. Also, they should also practice appropriate infection control and sterilization, avoid direct and unprotected contact with those with Ebola (alive or dead), and isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.

The 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic was the largest Ebola epidemic in history. This epidemic affected Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, United States, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, Mali, and Italy. With a case count of 28, 637 and a total of 11,315 deaths (most in West Africa), the survival rate for this is approximately 60%. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the West African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia) Ebola virus transmission free.  

Continue Reading