The Ebola virus (EVE), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe acute viral disease. It transmits to humans by wild animals. This virus spreads in human populations by transmission from person to person. Specifically, it is mainly associated with direct or indirect contact with blood or bodily secretions. The disease affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Most human cases reported in 2014 were transmitted from person to person.
The outbreaks occur mainly in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near the rainforest, and have a mortality rate ranging between 25 and 90 percent. Ebola name originates from the village where the second outbreaks were near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus was first detected in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara (Sudan) and Yambuku (DRC).
The outbreak of 2014 (the first case was recorded in December 2013 in Guinea) and affected outnumbers the sum of all victims of previous episodes.
Read this article further to find out the types, causes, symptoms, and prevention of the Ebola virus.
Types Of Ebola Virus
They are five types of Ebola virus. These types have received the name of the place where they were first identified during an outbreak epidemic of Ebola. Three of them link with large outbreaks in Africa: Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, and Ebola-Bundibugyo.
Besides, the Ebola-Tai or Ivory Coast is a mutation discovered in 1995. The species Ebola Reston, found in the Philippines and China. It can infect humans, but no evidence causes disease or is fatal.
The source of the Ebola virus is unknown, but the scientific evidence points to the fruit bats (family Pteropodidae).
Infection occurs through direct contact, mucous membranes, or solutions of continuity of the skin, blood, or other body fluids or secretions (feces, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people.
It can also occur when the mucous membranes of a healthy subject contact contaminated by infectious secretions from a patient with the Ebola virus, such as clothing or objects used as needles.
The Most Common Symptoms Of Ebola Virus Are:
- sudden onset of fever
- intense muscle ache
- skin rash
- renal and liver dysfunction
In some cases, internal and external bleeding is also observed. In addition, laboratory results show a decrease in leukocytes and platelets and elevated liver enzymes.
Symptoms Appear 3-12 Days Of Exposure
There are several signs which are unspecific to the Ebola virus-like initial fever and malaise. This can also be followed by anorexia, headache, myalgia, arthralgia, sore throat, and chest, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Early nausea, vomiting, epigastric and abdominal pain, and diarrhea can also occur.
Usually in advanced stages, bleeding in 50 percent of patients, which causes death within days. In severe cases, clinical signs are more intense at the beginning.
Patients die of complications of multiorgan failure, and septic shock between days 6 and 16 of the disease.
Patients are contagious as the virus is present in blood and secretions. The concentration of the Ebola virus in semen is up to 61 days after the onset of the disease.
The incubation period (from infection to the onset of symptoms) ranges from 2 to 21 days.
Prevention Of Ebola Virus
In some cases, to reduce the risk of transmission to humans, it may be necessary to sacrifice the infected animals and oversee the burial or cremation of the dead.
In the absence of optimal treatment and a vaccine proven effective, the only way to reduce the number of infections and deaths is human awareness of the risk factors and monitoring rigorous protocols with protective measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends avoiding close physical contact with patients with EVE and using suitable gloves and personal protective equipment. It is necessary to wash their hands after contact with the sick regularly. Therefore, you should take protective measures when burying the dead.
As healthcare professionals, it is vital to observe at all times and all places the usual precautions and security protocols, regardless of the patient‘s diagnosis. The key measures include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, personal protective equipment (depending on the risk of splashing or other forms of contact with infected materials), injection methods, and burial insurance.
Health workers who care for patients suspected of getting infection should, in addition to general precautions, apply other measures of monitoring to avoid any exposure to blood or body fluids of the patient and direct unprotected contact with the environment possibly contaminated.
When you have close contact (within 1 meter) with patients with EVE, health professionals must protect your face (with a mask or medical mask and goggles) and wear a clean robe, but not sterile, long sleeves and gloves (sterile for some procedures ).
Those working in the laboratory are also at risk. Therefore, when taking samples for diagnostic purposes in humans or animals with a possible infection or already confirmed Ebola virus, handle carefully by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.
Before diagnosing EVE, you rule out typhoid fever, malaria, shigellosis, sepsis, cholera, pneumonia, leptospirosis, plague, rickettsial diseases, recurrent fever, meningitis, hepatitis, and other fevers viral hemorrhagic.
Various Tests In The Laboratory Can Definitively Diagnose Infections With The Ebola Virus:
- Analysis of blood samples in a laboratory with maximum biosafety level (BSL-4).
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), IgM ELISA, PCR.
- Tests for IgM and IgG antibodies.
- Serum neutralization tests, polymerase chain reaction reverse transcription (RT-PCR), and virus isolation by cell culture.
Samples of patients represent a substantial biological hazard. Therefore, perform tests under maximum biological containment.
Ebola Virus Treatment
Despite ongoing research, there is no cure for Ebola. Currently, two drugs can treat Ebola:
- Inmazeb is a mixture of three monoclonal antibodies (Atoltivimab, Maftivimab, and Odesivimab-ebgn).
- Ansuvimab-zykl (Ebanga) is a monoclonal antibody given as an injection.
Severe cases require intensive care. Some patients are frequently dehydrated and need intravenous rehydration or oral solutions containing electrolytes.
Treat symptomatic complications such as hypovolemia, electrolyte imbalance, hypoxemia, hemorrhage, septic shock, multiple organ failures, and disseminated intravascular coagulation separately.
The recommended care includes volume repletion, maintaining blood pressure and oxygenation, pain control, nutritional support, and treatment of secondary bacterial infections and other abnormalities.
Ebola virus is a deadly virus which spread easily. Therefore, if you experience unusual symptoms which point out to Ebola, seek medical attention immediately.