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Ebola Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

01 October, 2020 Ankita Singh

Ebola or Ebola virus disease (EVD) or formerly known as Ebola Hammoerage Fever (EHF) is a deadly disease that spreads throughout the body damaging the immune system. It can be so severe to damage multiple organs and can cause severe internal and external bleeding.

There are five strains of the Ebola virus out of which four can infect humans. This virus first appeared on the continent of Africa and has caused several outbreaks. The virus first appeared near the river Ebola thus getting its name.

Although Ebola is a rare disease its effects are severe and have more than a 50% mortality rate. It was transmitted to humans through animal (most likely fruit bats) but, it can also infect chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, antelopes, and porcupines.

No cure has yet been found against the Ebola virus even after more than 40 years of its first appearance. However, a vaccine has been developed in recent years against the virus. The vaccines are easily available in Ebola prone areas but, are not available everywhere.

It is quite rare in India with less than five thousand cases each year.

Causes of Ebola disease

Ebola is caused by viruses belonging to the viral family Filoviridae. The source of these viruses is not known yet but other than humans it can infect other animals too. It can be transmitted by infected animals or humans through body fluids.

Ebolavirus has five species: Zaire ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus and Taï Forest ebolavirus (also known as Cote d'Ivoire ebolavirus). Out of these only Reston, ebolavirus doesn’t cause any harm to humans however, it is fatal for other animals.

Transmission of the Ebola virus

Ebola is not an airborne disease and cannot be transmitted by mere touch either. Direct contact with the body fluid of the infected is the only way to transmit the virus.

The virus can be transmitted through blood diarrhea/feces, vomit, breast milk, saliva, semen, sweat, and urine. Transmission can take place through eye, nose, mouth, injured/broken skin, and sexual contact. The virus can also spread through used syringes and other medical instruments. Buy disposable syringes and other healthcare products online from 3MEDS.

Risk Factors Regarding Ebola

Ebola is not an easily transferable disease and hence doesn’t have many risk factors. Most of the risk factors can be avoided with caution.

Factors increasing the risk of infection by Ebola virus are:

1. Handling infected animals.

2. Getting exposed to infected objects.

3. Living or coming in contact with someone infected.

4. Attending the funeral of an infected person.

5. Travelling to areas of Ebola outbreaks.

Symptoms of Ebola

Symptoms of Ebola usually starts showing early (within a week), however, it can sometimes take up to 21 days to show any symptoms.

Initial symptoms when the infection is mild includes:

1. High fever

2. Headache

3. Pain in joints and muscles

4. Sore throat

5. Weakness

6. Stomach ache

7. Loss of appetite

When the disease gets worse so does the symptoms. Some symptoms in the late and severe stages of Ebola are:

1. Internal bleeding

2. Bleeding from nose, eyes, and ears

3. Blood in vomit and cough

4.Blood in diarrhea

Diagnosis of Ebola

Ebola is tough to be diagnosed just by symptoms, especially in the early stages. Early symptoms resemble the symptoms of flu, malaria or cholera. Hence doctors usually prefer to take blood and/or tissue test to diagnose Ebola.

If a person is diagnosed with Ebola then he/she is immediately isolated. People who came in close contact with the patient are also informed and tested.

Treatment for EVD

No cure has yet been found against Ebola. Treatment mostly includes medicines to reduce symptoms and use an experimental serum to destroy the infected cells.

Electrolytes and fluids are given to the patient to restore hydration. Oxygen is given to the patient artificially. Blood transfusions are done in case of internal and external bleeding. Blood pressure is maintained through medications. If the patient has suffered other infections then those are also treated. Buy blood pressure medicines from 3MEDS- the best online medical store in Delhi.

A vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV is available against the Ebola virus and people living in areas prone to Ebola outbreak or people traveling to those places are recommended to take the vaccine.

Prevention against Ebola

Since Ebola is not an easily spread disease its prevention is easier

If you are a resident of the area where the Ebola outbreak is possible then you must take the vaccine against it. 

1. Avoid traveling to places prone to Ebola outbreaks.

2. If traveling to Ebola prone area, take the vaccine in advance.

3. Avoid contact with bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, etc. as they can transmit the disease.

4. Healthcare workers should wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles whenever treating an infected person.

Conclusion

Ebola is a rare and deadly disease. You should be cautious about traveling to places prone to Ebola infections. If you suspect of having been infected with the virus rush to a doctor, get tested, and isolate yourself.