The Ebola outbreak swept through West Africa between 2013 and 2016. approaching 29,000 cases were reported in 10 countries but the outbreak primarily affected the African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea with 11,000 deaths occurring in just these three countries. Fortunately, though the issue subsided and the World Health Organization was able to terminate the public health emergency in March of 2016. Less fortunately in mid-February this year, three cases of Ebola were again reported in Guinea, these being the first cases in the region since 2016.
Why it is called Ebola Virus?
The disease was first identified in two simultaneous outbreaks one in Zahra a town in South Sudan and the other in the Baku Democratic Republic of Congo a village near the Ebola River from which the name of the disease was coined.
What ebola is and how the virus operates?
Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a high risk of death killing between 25% and 90% of people who are affected in 1976. Ebola originated in 1976 and like many viruses, it initiates in animals and can be transmitted into humans. Once it has infected humans ebola is capable of spreading via broken skin or mucous membranes (various cavities in the body and covers the surface of internal organs) unlike viruses like covid-19 which can be spread asymptomatically this isn’t possible with Ebola.
Transmission of ebola is only possible once a person experiences symptoms with symptoms being absolutely horrible, ranging from fever and fatigue to vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding because symptoms need to appear first and physical contact with bodily fluids is normally required to spread. Rather than it being airborne, Ebola is not as transmissible as other viruses however, ebola, unfortunately, has a very high fatality rate with the average fatality across all outbreaks approximately 50 percent, but in very specific outbreaks it’s reached 90 percent which ironically helps to reduce spread because while dead people are still infectious they’re not going to go to the shop and unknowingly spread the virus.
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
There are a vast swathe of reasons why this outbreak was so devastating but here are a few of the key ones:
- West Africa had not really experienced Ebola outbreaks before and thus lacked the virus-related infrastructure to deal with them properly
- Also due to poverty and recent conflicts in the three countries most affected traditional infrastructure like roads that are crucial in medical emergencies were also poor
- Another reason was the fluidity of movement between borders in the region which allowed the virus to very quickly get into new countries and cities where it could spread faster and faster
- Doctors, nurses, and health workers were in very short supply.
- Another commonly cited reason is the cultural landscape of the region, especially when it comes to caring for the infirm and particular funeral rituals which are culturally important but can be major sources of transmission this isn’t helped by poor community engagement but that’s something we’ll come to later so these are some of the main reasons why the outbreak was so bad between 2013 and 2016.
Since then though ebola has continued to be a problem for the continent with another outbreak happening in the democratic republic of congo between 2018 and 2020. That does mean that attention continued to be pointed at the virus meaning that research and vaccine development continues to this day so if the virus was suppressed in 2016 and hasn’t been seen at least in the West African region since then what’s caused its return well ebola?
What caused Ebola to return after suppressed in 2016?
Actually it never really gone, it’s always circulating in animals, all it needs is the correct circumstances which for the 2021 outbreak are currently unknown and it will quickly find its way back into humans. This really is crucial and answers one of the core questions why is ebola back because it never really went away it subsided stopped spreading among humans in the region and the world just stopped paying attention because the risk of it spreading to western nations suddenly dissipated anyway. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
On February 14th, 2021 Guinea contacted the world health organization to tell it of a new cluster, unfortunately, a nurse had died on January 28th who had been experiencing troubling symptoms when she sought medical advice she was first diagnosed with typhoid and then malaria by a second doctor before she passed away ultimately though it ended up being ebola as of the 25th of February nine cases have now been located and five people have died of those nine cases.
Virus Family and Species identified
Ebola virus disease in humans is caused by an infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family genus ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in non-human primates, but not in humans. For more exciting stuff please subscribe to our Facebook Page
Zaire Ebola virus is the most dangerous and is responsible for the largest outbreak. This strain can have a fatality rate of up to 90%. Ebola is thought to be a zoonotic virus this means that it infected animals and then spreads to humans. Fruit bats are considered as natural Ebola virus hosts.
How does Ebola spread
Ebola enters the human population through contact with blood secretions organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals like monkeys, chimpanzees, fruit bats, gorillas, and baboons. It then moves from person to person the same way. Bodily fluids that may contain the virus include tears, saliva, semen, breast milk, sweat, mucus, urine, and feces. The entry points for the virus include mouth, nose, eyes, open wounds, cuts, and abrasion. According to the World Health Organization, only people who are seriously sick can spread the condition through saliva.
Post-Ebola Symptoms and precautions
After recovery, Ebola may occur in breast milk therefore it is not known when it is safe to breastfeed again. The infection can also be transmitted through contact with surfaces and objects contaminated with the virus. The Ebola virus may persist in the semen for many months even after recovery leading to infections be sexual intercourse. Based on present evidence the World Health Organization recommends that all Ebola survivors and their sexual partners should receive counseling to ensure safe practices until their semen has twice tested negative, dead bodies remain infectious.
Who is at greater risk from Ebola?
People who are at higher risk may include people who prepare dead Ebola patients for burial, health workers who are treating, infected people’s family members, or close relatives of people who are infected with symptoms. The incubation period or the length of time from infection with a virus to onset of symptom is between 2 to 21 days symptoms.
It may include sudden onset of high fever, sore throat, fatigue, muscle pain, lack of appetite, joint and muscle pain, some patients may experience rash red eyes, difficulty in swallowing, difficulty in breathing, bleeding inside and outside of the body, cough, hiccups.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis and treatment to make a diagnosis other conditions will first be ruled out it should be noted that samples and specimens from patients with Ebola are extreme biohazard risk, testing should therefore be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions several tests that may be used in making the diagnosis include Antigen capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing.
Currently, two Ebola vaccines have been licensed, the first is ERVEBO which was initially approved in late 2019 and another was approved in May of 2020. Today eight African Nations have approved ERVEBO and more recent outbreak data from that has shown ERVEBO has a 97.5 efficacy rate.
It seems that a combination of fast action treatment and vaccination and community engagement should all help to confine ebola and making sure that it doesn’t get out of hand again so that’s where things stand right now it’s natural to be worried by outbreaks like these but at the moment there’s still a lot to learn about these newly emerging Ebola cases.