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Now Is The Time For You To Know The Basics About The Ebola Virus

Updated: Nov 7

Dr. Blaise Ntacyabukura



There are seven known types of Ebola virus that have caused outbreaks of Ebola virus disease since 1976. The Zaire type of Ebola virus is considered the eldest and the most common as it has been responsible for outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), mainly in the Équateur and North Kivu provinces, and West Africa region in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone countries.

There is also the Sudan type of Ebola virus, which previously affected people in Uganda and Sudan and is currently responsible for the recent outbreak in Uganda's Western and Central Regions.

Other families of the Ebola virus, such as the Bundibugyo species, Ivory Coast virus, and Reston, have been very insignificant.



How deadly is the Ebola Virus disease?

During the outbreaks of the Zaire Ebola virus in DRC between 1976 and 2003, nine of every ten infected people were killed by the disease. A typical outbreak involved fewer than 100 patients and lasted a period of weeks to a few months before the healthcare providers would contain it.

However, In 2014, the same virus appeared in West Africa, affecting more than 29,000 people in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, and it killed, on average, four of every ten people who caught it. The outbreak lasted more than two years before the joint efforts of the world health organization and political and local healthcare teams could get it under control.

The death rate of the Sudan Ebola in its four outbreaks in Uganda and Sudan was 5 in every ten infected people, proving the role of timely access to primary care in the overall outcome of infected individuals.


How is it spread?

The outbreak typically begins when a human contacts an infected animal or its body fluids. However, the persistence of the virus in persons who have recovered from the Ebola virus disease may be a source of infection for new outbreaks. Person-to-person transmission is based upon direct physical contact with the body fluids of a living or deceased patient.


What are its symptoms?

An infected patient typically presents with a nonspecific febrile syndrome that may include headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhoea frequently develop during the first few days of illness and may lead to significant volume losses. A skin rash is sometimes observed; however, major bleeding is not found in most patients. Severe bleeding (haemorrhage) tends to be observed only in the late stages of the disease.


Dying patients usually develop progressive low blood pressure (hypotension), which makes them fall into shock and develop multiple organ failures. The latter typically results in death. During the second week of infection, patients who survive infection commonly show signs of clinical improvement. Similar to dying patients, that is when they start signs of collapsing.



Treatment and prevention:

The mortality associated with Ebola virus disease could be reduced through early access to adequate supportive care, thus the requirement to seek care as early as possible. Unlike other Ebola viruses, the Zaire virus is preventable through the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine.

In case an outbreak is reported in your area, it is recommended to:

  1. Avoid infected people, their body fluids, and the bodies of anyone who has died from the disease.

  2. Avoid contact with wild animals, like bats and monkeys, and their meat.

  3. Wash your hands often.

If you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact our medical doctors via the BYON8 App.


Until next time stay safe and healthy.



References:

  1. Feldmann H, Sprecher A, Geisbert TW. Ebola. N Engl J Med. 2020 May 7;382(19):1832-1842. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1901594. PMID: 32441897.

  2. Cardile AP, Warren TK, Martins KA, Reisler RB, Bavari S. Will There Be a Cure for Ebola? Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2017 Jan 6;57:329-348. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010716-105055. Epub 2016 Dec 7. PMID: 27959624.

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