Ebola virus (EBOV or Zaire Ebola virus) is one of five known viruses within the genus Ebola virus. Out of five Ebola viruses, four including EBOV, cause a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and other mammals including monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and pigs with a death rate of up to 90%, known as Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Ebola virus has caused the majority of human deaths from EVD, and mostly in West African countries (Liberia, Sierra Leon and Guinea). According to WHO (World Health Organization) from March 2014 to till date, 10,141 cases are suspected throughout the world out of which 4,922 confirmed deaths by affecting with this deadly virus.
In one of its early report, WHO also said that by end of December 10,000 new cases may be found per week.
How it came to Human?
In 26th August 1976, Ebola virus (EBOV) was first identified in Yambuku in Democratic Republic of the Congo, 60 miles from the Ebola River. The first case was the headmaster of the local school, Mabalo Lakeland.
After 37 years of that incident, researchers found that a 2-year-old boy, who died on 6th December 2013 in the village of Guinea, was the first case of the current Ebola virus disease epidemic. According to reports, his family hunted bats of the Ebola-harboring species Hypsignathus monstrosus and Epomops franqueti for bush meat, which may have been the original source of the infection. His mother, sister, and grandmother then became ill with similar symptoms and also died.
People infected by those initial cases spread the disease to other villages. And now it became the major outbreak. It was believed that this disease mainly came through fruit bats which are considered the host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
The Symptoms of Ebola are: Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea with blood, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts, and elevated liver enzymes.
The incubation period, or the time interval from infection to started showing symptoms, is from 2 to 21 days. The patients become contagious only when they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period. So during this period, an affected person is NOT infectious. They cannot transmit disease to healthy person.
How it is spreading?
Person to person spread of Ebola Virus Disease requires close contact with bodily fluids (e.g., vomit, mucus, diarrhea, etc.) of an infected individual.
Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people.
Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.
Ebola Virus Disease is NOT spread through the air and therefore, one cannot become infected by travelling in the same aircraft or sharing same room with Ebola affected person.
Doctors wearing protective clothes before entering to Isolation wards of Ebola patient.
Cases of Ebola so far in the world
As of 25 October 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 10,141 suspected cases and 4,922 deaths, mostly from West Africa.
On 30 September, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared its first case of Ebola virus disease. The CDC disclosed that Thomas Eric Duncan became infected in Liberia and traveled to Texas on 20th September 2014.
On 26th September he fell ill and sought medical treatment but was sent home with antibiotics. He returned to the hospital by ambulance, two days later on 28th September and was placed in isolation and tested for Ebola. Thomas Duncan died on 8th October 2014. On 19th October his four relatives and 44 other people who had had contact with Duncan were released from quarantine. They were found Ebola free.
On 12th October, the CDC confirmed that a health worker who had treated Duncan had tested positive for the Ebola virus, making this the first known transmission of the disease in the United States. Nina Pham, 24 years, the first nurse infected, was transferred to a facility at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland on 16th October.
Two days later a second health worker at the same hospital tested positive for Ebola, while the second, Amber Joy Vinson, was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
Both patients recovered and were declared free of the virus by October 24. A fourth case of Ebola virus disease was diagnosed on 23rd October in New York City. MSF doctor Craig Spencer had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa where he contracted the disease. On 24th October, New York and New Jersey indicated both states would begin a mandatory 21 day quarantine of all health care workers arriving from West Africa.
What are the precautionary steps India has taken so far?
India is highly populated country and risk of Ebola to India is high once it will reach each here. Nearly 45,000 Indians are staying in West Africa and on 20th October 22,000 Indians landed at Delhi and Mumbai airport. Out which 55 suspected with Ebola but later the laboratory test declared negative results.
Fortunately, so far there is no Ebola case found in India. But if in case it found, does India is ready to fight with it? Is the biggest question now? So far Medical experts told still India is not ready to fight with Ebola because of less medical facilities and there is no proper vaccine is available but India trying to do its best to stop a deadly virus to land on our country land.
Recently when I was travelling from Nagpur to Bangalore and from vizag to Bangalore, I had seen in airports government installed Thermal Scanners which scan for virus to passengers landing from Africa. Thermal scanners at airports secretly scan for Ebola fever.
It also identified 10 additional labs to test for the Ebola virus and a four-member rapid response team from each state to quickly spot, isolate and trace people suspected to have the deadly disease that has killed over 4,922 people worldwide.
These laboratories will added the existing two – National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi, and the National Institute of Virology in Pune – equipped to test blood samples for the Ebola virus disease (EVD). It takes 24 hours for the test results, but in an emergency, these labs will have results ready in 12 hours.
A batch of 44 “master trainers” is currently being trained in public health preparedness and Ebola response at New Delhi’s National Institute of Health and Family Welfare. Senior health department officials from 12 states with international airports attended a three-day workshop.
Vaccine of Ebola
Many countries are in race to find the vaccine for Ebola especially Britain and Canada. The GSK pharmaceutical company promised to make hundred and thousands of doses ready by mid of 2015. And 1 million doses available in market for commercial use by end of 2015 – 2016 whereas Canadian pharmaceutical company also sending its experimental drugs to West Africa for testing on patients.
Entire world is contributing lot on Ebola vaccine. India had contributed $12.5 million USD. Drug makers and researchers are joining together to make thousand of doses in entire world.
Even it said that the patient who recovered from Ebola, its blood itself acting as Ebola Vaccine.
Few Precautions from our side:
Wash your hand properly before your meals, with soap. Have basil leaves daily at least once, either with tea or raw leaves which helps your immune system in functioning well. And one more last and important thing please keeps your place neat and tidy to obey Modiji’s Swach Bharath Abhiyan and overcome deadly viral diseases.
This is one of the major historic epidemics in human era. Please share this info with your loved one and make everyone aware of Ebola before it reaches India.
“Prevention is better than cure.”