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Ebola Virus Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, prevention

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Now before we go any further, What is Ebola. I want you my audience to appreciate and understand it well to be able to prevent it, or to take the most urgent measures possible to save a life if an incidence happens near you, to you or your friend or family member.

WHAT IS EBOLA?

Ebola viral disease, serious, fatal condition in humans and nonhuman primates. Ebola is one of several viral hemorrhagic fevers known, caused by infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus. WHO defines Ebola as Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%.

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The mortality rates of Ebola vary depending on the strain. Ebola-Zaire can have a fatality rate of up to 90% while Ebola-Reston has never caused a fatality in humans.

The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected humans and animals. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Major symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) are fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, and headache.

Symptoms of Ebola

The time interval from infection with Ebola to the start of symptoms is 2-21 days, or 8-10 days. Signs and symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • joint and muscle aches
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • lack of appetite

Some patients may also experience:

  • rash
  • hiccups
  • bleeding inside and outside of the body
  • red eyes
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • chest pain
  • difficulty in breathing
  • difficulty in swallowing

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What causes Ebola?

Ebola is caused by viruses in the Ebolavirus and Filoviridae family. Ebola is considered a zoonosis, which means the virus is present in animals and is transmitted to humans.

It is yet to be known how this transmission occurs at the onset of an outbreak in humans.

In Africa, people have developed Ebola after handling infected animals found ill or dead, including chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope, and porcupines.

Person-to-person transmission occurs after someone infected with Ebolavirus becomes symptomatic. As it can take between 2 and 21 days for symptoms to develop, a person with Ebola may have been in contact with hundreds of people, which is why an outbreak can be hard to control and may spread rapidly.

How does Ebola transmission occur in humans?

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Transmission of Ebola between humans can occur through:

  • Direct contact through broken skin and mucous membranes with the blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids of infected people.
  • Indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
  • Exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.
  • Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.
  • Exposure to the semen of people with Ebola or who have recovered from the disease – the virus can still be transmitted through semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
  • Contact with patients with suspected or confirmed EVD – healthcare workers have frequently been infected while treating patients.

There is no evidence that Ebola can be spread via insect bites.

Now, how do you have to control EBOLA?

Prevention and control of EBOLA

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures (including vaccination) that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:

  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Reducing the risk of possible sexual transmission, based on further analysis of ongoing research and consideration by the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response, WHO recommends that male survivors of Ebola virus disease practice safe sex and hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen tests negative twice for Ebola virus. Contact with body fluids should be avoided and washing with soap and water is recommended. WHO does not recommend isolation of male or female convalescent patients whose blood has been tested negative for Ebola virus.
  • Outbreak containment measures, including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola and monitoring their health for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, and the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

Controlling infection in health-care settings

Health-care workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.

Read Here for more details on Ebola Virus Disease

 

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