Ebola is a viral disease which is spread from wild animals to humans in the first instance and later spread from humans to humans. It is quite contagious and spreads by any kind of direct contact with an infected person. It is one of the most dangerous diseases known to mankind, mostly because the condition of the patient falls so rapidly within 2-3 days of contracting the Ebola virus. The symptoms usually begin with a fever and sore throat which rapidly turn into an instance of diarrhoea causing extreme loss of fluids from the body in a short span of time. Without immediate medical treatment, chances are quite high that the patient would die. The current mortality rate for Ebola infection is 50%.
The cause for this infection is a virus which is sub-divided into 4 types:
- Bundibugyo Virus – (BDBV)
- Sudan Virus – (SUDV)
- Tai Forest Virus – (TAFV)
- Ebola Virus or Zaire Virus – (EBOV)
Of these four, the last one is considered to be the most dangerous, causing the maximum number of outbreaks and being the most difficult to cure.
Some common symptoms of Ebola are as follows:
- Influenza like symptoms like cold, sore throat, fever and body ache.
- Feeling of nausea and frequent vomiting.
- Extreme case of diarrhoea such that the body is not able to retain even the essential fluids.
- Shortness of breath even with an oxygen mask.
- Severe pain in the chest.
- Internal as well as external bleeding.
- Some parts of the body may also experience swelling.
The first sign of Ebola to watch out for are the sore throat, sudden high body temperature and unexplained fatigue. If you have recently been to a region where there is an Ebola outbreak, then you must not dismiss these signs as mere influenza or the flu but must rush to the doctor. The second step of Ebola symptoms are the vomiting and extreme diarrhoea. If the treatment for Ebola is started early with the first symptoms, it can be treated and your chances of mortality reduced.
To test the body for the presence of Ebola virus, the following tests are used:
- Blood test, specifically focusing on determining the number of platelets and white blood cells count along with examining any change in the pattern or clotting of the blood.
- Specific Laboratory Test to detect whether body has produced the antibodies required for fighting Ebola which would obviously make the diagnosis positive.
- ELISA or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay which is basically to detect a specific kind of protein related to the Ebola virus. This test is useful for early stages of Ebola and basically involves only a saliva test with the results apparent in 3-4 hours.
Symptoms of Ebola are quite common to those of malaria, typhoid or meningitis. In this scenario, there is a possibility of a wrong diagnosis which can cause the patient his life. If you have symptoms of the Ebola disease, you must go to a good doctor, preferably a specialist. The doctor will ask you about travel history to see if you have been to any region which is currently under an outbreak of Ebola or if you have been in close interaction with the wildlife. The diagnosis of Ebola can only be confirmed after performing the above stated tests. Sometimes, a cell culture will also be done on isolated bacteria to study the behaviour of the bacteria.
Ebola is a viral outbreak and generally does not have a good prognosis. If it is diagnosed while the patient is still in the early stages of the infection, chances are that the infection will be controlled on time and cured. However, the later the stage at which it is detected, the lesser the chances of survival. Currently, the mortality rate for Ebola is a shocking 50%.
The best way to prevent Ebola is to contain its contamination to a limited area or to a limited number of people. The first case of Ebola which triggers an outbreak generally comes due to contact with a wild animal or its food. One should make sure that while touching all wild animals or their food, gloves are worn and proper hygiene maintained. Further, to reduce the risk of transfer of the infection, even the people who are taking care of the ill should abide by WHO approved safety precautions like wearing gloves, masks, protective clothing etc. The virus can be spread even from a dead body and therefore it is essential that all the deceased are buried or cremated at the earliest.
Ebola disease is caused due to the Ebola virus which can be of four types as listed above. However, all these four types cause more or less the same type of condition and infection resulting in either death because of extremely low blood pressure due to loss of fluids or due to a haemorrhagic fever. There are no recognized types of the Ebola disease as such.
Ebola is an extremely dangerous disease and at the height of the infection it causes severe internal bleeding, multiple organ failure, and seizures, it can even put the patient in a coma after which death is almost certain. Even when patients recover, they can take months or even 1-2 years to regain their old strength and immunity. Further on in life, the ordeal they went through may also cause a general lowering of the immunity system, hair loss at an early age, frequent headaches and even liver inflammation.
Home Remedies :
The Ebola virus is one of the worst kinds of viruses that can infect the body because it works really fast. There are many cases when the person affected from Ebola virus dies within 10-15 days from the first day of infection. For this reason, any person showing signs of Ebola is kept in complete intensive medical care from the moment the symptoms are detected. Home remedies simply would not work for containing or subduing this virus. Even strong allopathic treatments are rendered ineffective in front of the Ebola virus.
Research on Ebola Virus has till now not produced a tried and tested treatment for curing the virus all together. All that the recommended treatments provide is a way to contain the symptoms of the disease so that the virus works its way through without killing the patient and finally gets inactivated on its own. Antibiotics are prescribed before the symptoms start showing if you have been exposed to an area with an Ebola outbreak.
Aspirin and ibrufen are WHO recommended painkillers while heparin is a drug which tries to promote clotting of blood to reduce internal and external bleeding. Consistent oral rehydration is another therapy which works sometimes since in most cases the patient slips into a coma because of loss of essential body fluids.
ZMapp – The Wonder Drug for Ebola :
A company called Mapp Pharmaceuticals has recently come up with a drug specifically aimed for fighting Ebola after its recent outbreak in Africa which has killed number of people till date. This drug called ZMapp is unique in its characteristics as it contains two antibodies – one taken from human body and the other taken from a mouse. This drug was tried as an experiment on two Ebola patients in the USA who were literally on the last stages of the Ebola infection.
Surprisingly, the drug worked and those patients recovered as the symptoms were first slowed and then stopped altogether. These two patients are still under intensive study and the production of the drug has not been started for large scale use as it is still not entirely tested. However, ZMapp does seem like a promising solution for future Ebola outbreaks.