EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE 5
Since March 2014 to date, there has been an Ebola epidemic in WestAfrica. The most affected nations are those that have poorlyfunctioning health care structures. These include Liberia, SierraLeone and Guinea. The current Ebola epidemic has been the deadliestsince 1976, when the disease was discovered. The number of deaths isfive times higher when compared to previous Ebola occurrences (BBCNews, 2015). It is a fatal disease in human beings, which spreadsfast, especially following close contact with an infected person.
The infectious agent is Ebola virus, from the Filoviridaevirus family. It comprises of Marburgvirus, Cuevavirusand Ebolavirus. The World Health Organization notes that thereare five species of the virus. These are Tai Forest, Zaire, Sudan,Bundibugyo and Reston. The Zaire, Sudan and Bundibugyo ebolavirus arelinked to major epidemics of the illness in African nations. The WestAfrican epidemic is from the Zaire species.
Transmission of the Ebola virus occurs following close contact withcontaminated body fluids, organs or secretions of animals that act ashosts. Host animals are “chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats,monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in therainforest” (WHO, 2015). Among these animals, the fruit batsbelonging to the Pteropodidae family are natural hosts.Following human-animal contact, the virus is transmitted via personto person directly. When an individual that is not infected with thevirus is exposed to the secretions, mucous membranes and differentbody fluids of an individual that is infected, then they also becomeinfected. Human transmission also occurs when someone that is notinfected touches clothes or beddings that have been contaminated withEbola virus fluids. It is also possible for health care personnel tobecome infected when taking care of infected people. This is due tofailure to adhere strictly to preventive precautions. Ebolatransmission is also possible during burial ceremonies in casemourners come into direct contact with dead bodies of individualsthat have succumbed to the illness. Provided there are traces of thevirus in an individual’s blood, then the individual is infectious.
The immune system comprises of numerous biological systems andprocedures, which assist in safeguarding the body from infections andillnesses (Servick, 2014). The immune cells create substances thattravel through all body parts protecting them from germs. A properlyfunctioning immune system detects any threat, which involvesbacteria, parasites and viruses, and separates them from the healthyhuman body tissue. The immune system recognizes as well as reacts toantigens, which are the threat, by destroying them. There are threetypes of immunity, innate, acquired and passive. Innate immunity isinborn and entails barriers, which prevent the entry of dangerousmaterials into the body. Acquired immunity develops followingexposure to specific antigens. The immune system devises manners ofdefending the body from the antigens. Passive immunity derives fromthe production of antibodies in another body, which are transferredto another individual, as is the case with newborns. The Ebola virusis fatal because it attacks the immune system fast by disarmingimmune response, and later dismantling the vascular system (Servick,2014). Once in the body, the Ebola virus attacks immune cellsresponsible for alarming on attack by antigens. These are thedendritic cells, whose role involves alerting on any attack to thehuman body and activating T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes are whiteblood cells, which obliterate infected cells to avoid replication ofantigens. Following entry of Ebola virus in the body, dendritic cellsbecome defective and are incapable of sending signals to T cells.Hence, the virus replicates instantly and fast (Servick, 2014).
Initial symptoms of the disease are fatigue, headache, sudden fever,sore throat and pain in the muscles. The infected individual thenbegins to vomit, have rashes, diarrhea, impaired liver and kidneyfunctioning and at times bleeding. Bleeding may be internal throughtraces of blood in stool or external where blood oozes from gums.Laboratory tests to confirm Ebola infection indicate reduced whiteblood cell count (WHO, 2015). Following infection, an individual cantake 2 to 21 days for the symptoms to show. There is no confirmedtreatment for Ebola. However, there are various approaches andtreatments used in enhancing survival. These include treatingparticular symptoms as soon as they occur, care-rehydration usingfluids administered orally or intravenously (WHO, 2015).
Environmental precautions to prevent Ebola entail reducing contactbetween humans and wildlife, especially animals identified as hosts.Safe burials where mourners are not exposed to infected corpses andsocially mobilizing communities on how to prevent the spread of Ebolaare effective prevention approaches. Individual prevention includesimmediate reporting of any suspect case of Ebola, avoiding contactwith an infected person’s clothing, body fluids or secretions. Ifindividuals must consume animal products, then they must cookthoroughly prior to consumption. Health care practitioners mustadhere to preventive guidelines when handling patients suspected orconfirmed to have Ebola.
Ebola is an epidemic that is hard to contain. This is because itattacks the immune system fast and is widespread in regions whereindividuals lack proper health care. The current epidemic alerts onthe need for community mobilization on how to prevent Ebola. Inaddition, there is the need for establishing an effective treatmentapproach for the disease.
BBC News. (2015). Ebola: Mapping the outbreak. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28755033
Servick, K. (2014). What does Ebola actually do? Science Insider.Retrieved from http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/08/what-does-ebola-actually-do
WHO. (2015). Ebola virus disease. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/