Interesting Facts about Ebola Virus

(Photo: CNN)

The Ebola virus has been in existence for quite a time now. It has plagued the world, particularly the African continent for years. However, level of devastation the disease is bringing in West Africa today is by far the worst. Ebola’s mortality rate is currently seen at sixty percent. But what’s even more alarming is that up to ninety percent of those infected are likely to die.

This article is intended to establish awareness, especially with the fact that not all people know anything about this deadly disease. Even if the victims are increasing in numbers day by day, there remains no proven or licensed treatment or even a vaccine. It’s sad to know this even after almost forty years of research.

This year’s outbreak was first reported in March in Guinea, West Africa, particularly in the areas bordering Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to an article by Meera Senthilingam for CNN : The disturbing thing about this discovery of the virus’ re-emergence is that unlike the previous outbreaks, this one was able to cross borders, thereby, leaving scientists baffled and confused as to why this once remote virus was able to spread so fast.

Is it time to panic? Or is the world too late to respond? Regardless of the outcome or if there will eventually be a cure, one thing is for sure: that migration and the spurt of the population contributed to this re-emergence.

David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine believes that there is a clear sign that the outbreak hasn’t been handled the way it is supposed to from the get go. He is an authority with respect to Ebola because he was one of the few people on site when the first ever outbreak of Ebola to humans occurred in 1976.

Facts About Ebola

Source: CNN – Health Ebola Fast Facts

  • The first human outbreaks of the disease took place in Northern Zaire and Southern Sudan in 1976.
  • The virus is named after the Ebola River, where it was first identified in 1976 based on the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Ebola is highly infectious but not awfully contagious. It is not transmitted through air.
  • This year’s human outbreak has been confirmed in the African countries of Gabon, South Sudan, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, and Guinea.
  • The five known subspecies of Ebola are Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, and Reston ebolavirus.
  • The  first symptoms will appear eight to ten days after the exposure. The incubation period meanwhile can take two to twenty one days.

Is It Out of Control?

When there are disease outbreaks, the typical and standard response would be to use drugs intended to treat the infected populace, the very purpose of which is to prevent the infected from transmitting the disease to other people. Vaccines are then used to protect the people who have been exposed and then slow down the spread by way of carrying out herd immunity.

But what is happening right now is totally inexcusable. There’s been no breakthrough in drugs, medicine, or vaccine against Ebola. This is not because scientists can’t figure out a cure. It’s just that the virus itself is periodic in nature. It is remote and there hasn’t been a major spread of it in the last decades. As a result, there is not enough reason for companies to finance and perform large-scale trials in order to come up with a definite weapon against this deadly disease.

Furthermore, the virus’ nature is also preventing scientists from developing vaccines that correspond to a strong immune response. There are multiple forms of Ebola and what it means is that there needs to be a specific immune response for all of them. And because the virus is able to replicate fast, there’s a strong possibility that it can easily build resistance supposed a vaccine is produced.

The Ebola Threat While Traveling

It’s actually not just Ebola. Most deadly diseases can be obtained while travelling. Unlike in the past, the world is now easily connected by all sorts of transportation, one of which is transoceanic flights. So when one person who’s been infected with Ebola boards a plane, what happens is devastating. It can trigger a domino effect that knows no boundaries. So even if the outbreak is seen in West Africa, there will always be that risk of spreading to other regions in the African continent, and even in Europe, U.S., Asia, and Middle East. Ebola is not a terrorist or a criminal who has limits and boundaries. It doesn’t know when to stop. It does not have limits. It is the ultimate killer.

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