What is Ebola Disease

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) is the human disease caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, along with decreased functioning of the liverand kidneys. At this point, some people begin to have problems with bleeding.

The disease is usually acquired when a person comes into contact with the bloodor bodily fluids of an infected animal such as a monkey or fruit bat. Fruit bats are believed to carry and spread the virus without being affected by it.

Once infection of a human occurs, the disease may be spread from one person to another. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via their semenfor nearly two months. To make the diagnosis, typically other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, choleraand other viral hemorrhagic feverare first excluded. The blood may then be tested for antibodiesto the virus, or the viral RNA, or the virus itself, to confirm the diagnosis.

Prevention includes decreasing the spread of the disease from infected monkeys and pigs to humans. This may be done by checking these types of animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as is wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person who has the disease. Samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.

There is no specific treatment for the virus.

Efforts to help persons who are infected include giving them either oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids.

The disease has a high mortality rate: often between 50% and 90% of those who are infected with the virus.

The disease was first identified in the Sudanand the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Between 1976, when it was first identified, and 2014, fewer than 1,000 people a year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Efforts are ongoing to develop a vaccine; however, none exists as of 2014.

Signs and symptoms

Manifestation of Ebola begins abruptly with a sudden onset of an influenza-like stage characterized by general malaise, fever with chills, sore throat, severe headache, weakness, joint pain, muscle pain, and chest pain.

Respiratory tract involvement is characterized by pharyngitis with sore throat, cough, dyspnea, and hiccups. The central nervous systemis affected as judged by the development of severe headaches, agitation, confusion, fatigue, seizures, and sometimes coma.

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