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Everything You Want to Know (or Not Know) About the Ebola Virus

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  • Everything You Want to Know (or Not Know) About the Ebola Virus

    It's 2014 and everyone has been waiting for it to happen. We've seen movies and read books where the plot involves the spread of a deadly virus across the world. Doctors in hazmat suits roam the streets while the military loads coughing citizens into buses while broadcasting that everything is OK. It used to be science fiction, but will it become reality?

    Ebola is here, and it's a disease that can kill up to 90% of the people who catch it. There are five known types of the Ebola virus, with a strain from Zaire being the most deadly. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but it is believed that the strain of Ebola making its rounds today is the Zaire strain.

    Before we go there…

    Before we get into what Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is, Ebola symptoms, how Ebola is spread, and discuss treatments, realize that there are other health issues that can present similarly to Ebola.

    Recently, a man was isolated due to symptoms similar to Ebola - he was vomiting blood. It turned out that he had a bleeding ulcer.

    Malaria has symptoms including high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness - all similar to the initial symptoms of Ebola. Malaria is also common to Africa.

    Other diseases that have similar presentation, especially early on, include Typhoid, Meningitis, Cholera and even the Plague.



    The point to see here is that, –while you should treat those with Ebola-like symptoms with the utmost care and caution, those with similar symptoms need to be fully examined prior to assuming they have contracted the Ebola Virus. However, most of the diseases that can be confused with Ebola are also serious and devastating themselves so care needs to be taken.

    What is Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever?

    Ebola itself is a virus, and one of several that causes viral hemorrhagic fever. Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) is actually a group of RNA viruses that can be contracted by both humans and animals and is often characterized by organ damage and bleeding. Not all viral hemorrhagic fevers are severe. The Scandinavian Nephropathia Epidemica agent, for example, is relatively mild.

    Different VHFs are responsible for many of the more devastating diseases we'’re aware of today. The family Bunyaviradae, for example, includes the Hantavirus genus and attacks your renal system. The Flaviviridae family includes illnesses such as Dengue, Yellow Fever, and two tick-borne encephalitis strains. The Filoviridae family, which is the family that the Ebola Virus belongs to, is also responsible for the Marburg Virus (see http://wapo.st/1A85BFq).

    Different VHFs do different things to the body. Most target various organs and systems of the body, such as the liver, the blood and the bone marrow. Many are responsible for disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), where small clots form in blood vessels throughout the body and remove the platelets necessary for clotting from the bloodstream. This anti-clotting aspect is what results in the classic representation of the Ebola Virus – people bleeding from all of their orifices.

    What are Ebola Virus Symptoms?

    Initial symptoms (these appear within 2 to 21 days of infection) include:
    • High Fever (usually with a sudden onset)
    • Headache
    • Joint and muscle aches
    • Sore throat
    • Weakness
    • Stomach pain
    • Lack of Appetite
    As the disease worsens, the following symptoms start appearing:
    • Red eyes
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Rash
    • Vomiting (often with blood)
    • Diarrhea (also often with blood)
    • Coughing up blood
    • Impaired kidney and liver function
    • Internal and external bleeding
    Diagnosing Ebola is fairly simple. Blood testing for antibody and serums is performed.

    How is Ebola Spread?

    Ebola is spread through human to human transmission via direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, saliva and sweat. Current studies show that the largest amount of virus contaminates can be found in vomit, blood and diarrhea. In addition, the person you come into contact with has to be showing symptoms of Ebola in order for it to be spread. Someone who is not showing symptoms generally does not transmit the virus.

    While some are concerned that Ebola can travel through the air and infect others, all scientific tests save one have shown that this doesn’'t happen. In that single test, six piglets with Ebola were housed next to four monkeys in a separate cage. Two of the monkeys caught Ebola.

    However, the author of the test (Hana Weingartl) has stated that it’s highly unlikely the same circumstance could happen between humans. Why? For pigs, the Ebola Virus ends up as an infection of the lungs and their respiratory tract, and, unlike humans, pigs tend to cough and sneeze when infected. Each time this happens, the Ebola Virus is expelled, and the virus is in the air directly.

    Even when humans infected by the Ebola Virus cough and sneeze, it is highly unlikely that this will spread the virus.

    Is it possible to catch Ebola from having sex? Yes, Semen can carry the virus. However, according to Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, “"Of all the modes of transmission, that's going to be the last.”"

    Schaffner continued, “"Unlike people with the flu or HIV, those who are infected with Ebola aren't contagious until they start showing symptoms. By that point, having sex would be the last thing on a patient's mind.”"

    While the virus can persist after an individual’'s death, it is highly unlikely that it could be spread through contact with the bed sheets or chairs used by an infected individual. A 2007 study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that only two out of 33 objects taken from an Ebola ward in Uganda showed traces of active viruses, and those objects had visible blood on them. According to the study, an individual would need to touch the object, pick up a live virus onto their hand, and then touch their eye, nose or mouth, or have the virus enter their body through a cut or a membrane.

    Should you be concerned about catching the Ebola Virus while travelling on a plane? It is possible. However, as we've discussed, it is not transmitted easily. A person needs to have the symptoms, most of which are visible, in order to be contagious. A bodily fluid needs to be touched, and then touched to an individual's eyes, nose or mouth, or an open cut, in order to be infected. With appropriate precautions, such as frequent hand washing, your chances of catching the virus is radically diminished.

    How do you treat the Ebola Virus?

    There are no publicly available treatments that attack the virus itself, so the treatments are for the symptoms (also called “supportive therapy”). For example, dehydration is treated with rehydration and electrolytes. Shortness of breath is treated with oxygen.

    An experimental drug called Zmapp helped to radically improve the health of 2 American missionary workers. This drug, however, has not yet entered human trials so it is unknown as to whether it will be a broad treatment in the future.

    Zmapp is not a vaccine. It is therapeutic medication. This means that it will only be given to people who have already contracted the disease, as opposed to being given earlier in life or when visiting a location where a disease is more common, in order to protect against the disease.

    However, the National Institute of Health'’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been working on developing an Ebola vaccine. They have announced that are expediting their work and hope to enter clinical trials in the Fall of 2014. The NIH is also supporting several private pharmaceutical companies in their development of vaccines for both Ebola and the Marburg virus.

    The number one approach to treatment is prevention. Identifying Ebola cases early and isolating the patients, and then taking appropriate precautions to protect the healthcare personnel, is the only way that this disease will slow its rapid spread.

    Most sources agree that it is unlikely that the virus will measurably spread through developed nations such as the United States and Europe. While it will almost certainly come to the US at some point in time, most likely through air travel, the US health system’s familiarity with infectious diseases, controls around preventing the spread of infectious diseases, training on handling and supporting patients with infectious diseases, and a higher quality of equipment available for identifying, diagnosing and treating infectious diseases will go far to prevent a widespread pandemic within the United States borders.

    Resources Used to Develop This Article
    1. My own infection is proof that someone can easily carry Ebola into the U.S. – An executive brings the Marburg Virus back to the US in 2007.
    2. Viral hemorrhagic fever – Wikipedia
    3. Experts warn Australian hospitals not to forget other diseases during Ebola alert – The Guardian
    4. Ebola Virus: Nine things to know about the killer disease – CNN
    5. Can you get Ebola through the air? Here's what the science says – Vox.com
    6. Can you get Ebola from sex? – Fox News
    7. You Can Catch Ebola From a Sneeze: Travel a Risk – NewsEmergency.Com
    8. Questions and Answers on experimental treatments and vaccines for Ebola – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    9. Why Deadly Ebola Virus Is Likely to Hit the U.S. But Not Spread – National Geographic
    Last edited by labatt; 08-11-2014, 07:51 PM.
    ASurvivor, mariee and 2 others like this.
    Live your dream, don't dream your life.
    Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com

  • #2
    Another great article, Chris. This is a great starting point for people that want to learn more about the disease. Thank you for writing about the disease not being airborne. I was a bit skeptical about this before, but am now 100% sure that Ebola can't be transmitted to another human by air. Keep up the great work!

    Comment


    • #3
      I was always curious to know how Ebola is transmitted. By contact or through the air, human fluid. So I can take any precaution necessary. Very nice post and going to read up on it right now. Also I am curious to know what kind of damage it could do if it spreads across continents.


      EDIT: DOES NOT SPREAD THROUGH THE AIR BY COUGHING OR SNEEZING. BUT DOES SPREAD VIA BODILY FLUIDS. PHEW.

      EDIT#2: ARTICLE 7 SAYS YOU CAN CATCH IT FROM A SNEEZE BUT THEY WOULD HAVE TO SNEEZE DIRECTLY ON YOU AND IT IS A RARE WAY OF TRANSMISSION.
      Last edited by lagoonlife; 08-11-2014, 03:49 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes - it doesn't float through the air in pure virus form. It needs to be carried through a bodily fluid. Not only would someone have to sneeze directly on you, but their saliva/mucus would need to have live virus in it AND it would have to actually land in your eyes, nose or mouth. After a lot of research, I've come to realize that it's really not easy to get Ebola unless you live in a place with open sewers, poor hygiene and a lack of healthcare infrastructure or individuals aware of what Ebola is. Sounds a lot like Africa, unfortunately.
        Live your dream, don't dream your life.
        Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com

        Comment


        • #5
          Ah...Now i know what you meant.I probably should have done something like this..
          Anyways,the aim of educating people about this is here on this forum and that itself is a pleasure..
          I read the treatment part alone with some zeal,i never knew about it and zmapp sounds like it can potentially be the cure for Ebola..

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by labatt View Post
            Yes - it doesn't float through the air in pure virus form. It needs to be carried through a bodily fluid. Not only would someone have to sneeze directly on you, but their saliva/mucus would need to have live virus in it AND it would have to actually land in your eyes, nose or mouth. After a lot of research, I've come to realize that it's really not easy to get Ebola unless you live in a place with open sewers, poor hygiene and a lack of healthcare infrastructure or individuals aware of what Ebola is. Sounds a lot like Africa, unfortunately.
            Thank you for posting this article. It sheds light to common Ebola misconceptions. Now it is clear that there has to be an opening in the body where the saliva or tears? mucus? semen? can enter so that you can be infected. Now Ebola ain't that scary after all, just keep your distance to strangers while in public. I'm sure this will die a natural death just like SARS and the Bird Flu virus.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, it's not going to die a natural death. Ebola has been around for 40 years, and previous outbreaks have had a 90% death rate. Plus, bird flu is still around in various strains, so that didn't die a natural death either. These are still highly dangerous diseases, but the fears are mostly overblown by a big degree due to misinformation.

              Comment


              • #8
                That's one of the reasons why I wanted to post this. I didn't know much about Ebola until I started researching it, and I was surprised to find out how difficult it is to actually catch it when you live in a region that has good waste disposal (i.e. sewage) and hygiene (i.e. plenty of water to wash your hands with). Conversely, based on what I read, the reasons for it spreading so rapidly in Africa became readily apparent. Improve the infrastructure in Africa and you'll radically reduce the disease rate - but, unfortunately, that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
                Live your dream, don't dream your life.
                Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by labatt View Post
                  Yes - it doesn't float through the air in pure virus form. It needs to be carried through a bodily fluid. Not only would someone have to sneeze directly on you, but their saliva/mucus would need to have live virus in it AND it would have to actually land in your eyes, nose or mouth. After a lot of research, I've come to realize that it's really not easy to get Ebola unless you live in a place with open sewers, poor hygiene and a lack of healthcare infrastructure or individuals aware of what Ebola is. Sounds a lot like Africa, unfortunately.
                  And this is very correct. And people fail to realize that way back when, when these illnesses killed a lot of people - we didn't have the medical tech and hygiene tactics that we have today. H1N1 was a big scare too but I knew it wasn't going to be as bad as the media made it out to be. Ebola isn't the problem here, rumor control is the problem.

                  Great article, labatt!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I got this as a forwarded message,regarding the technique to ward off Ebola.
                    take bath in Hot water+ salt
                    Drink only boiled water+ salt.
                    It is said to be a traditional method to ward it off,don't ask me the reason,i too am searching for the same.If this is informative,kindly add it up.
                    This was sent by an Apollo Hospital doc to our Rotary group.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      That's such a great article. I wrote one about the matter somewhere else after making some researches but I didn't make it as complete as yours, at all. It has all the information you possibly can and need to get. Props for that.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks! Feel free to add a link to this article from yours. The more links from relevant pages we get here, the better.
                        Live your dream, don't dream your life.
                        Chris L-S, CEO/Owner/Administrator, Disaster.Com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by labatt View Post
                          Thanks! Feel free to add a link to this article from yours. The more links from relevant pages we get here, the better.
                          http://www.mybizact.com/ebola-virus-...l-virus-world/

                          If you can give me some feedback it'd be awesome too. I want to be sure all the information is right.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ricardo187 View Post

                            http://www.mybizact.com/ebola-virus-...l-virus-world/

                            If you can give me some feedback it'd be awesome too. I want to be sure all the information is right.

                            That's a great article too Ricardo. I picked up a couple of things I didn't know from it. It is a little brief though, but great job.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PhilA View Post


                              That's a great article too Ricardo. I picked up a couple of things I didn't know from it. It is a little brief though, but great job.
                              Thank you. As long as there's not any wrong information that may mislead people, I'm good with it. The plan was to keep it compact so people would bother to read it.

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