Kimberly A. Murphy
SC246- Unit 7 Assignment
January 6, 2015
Professor Robert Black
The Ebola Virus
The Ebola virus which was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in Africa is a deadly and rare disease that is caused by an infection of one of any of the five known strains of the Ebola virus. The genus Ebolavirus belongs in the family Filoviridae, a group of several related viruses that form virions also known as filamentous infectious viral particles and encode their genome in a single stranded RNA. Filoviruses are the viruses responsible for causing viral hemorrhagic fevers. Symptoms of a viral hemorrhagic fever begin with fever and muscle aches. Four of these ebolavirus strains can cause the disease in humans and all five can cause disease in primates such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys (CDC, 2014). The strains have been named for the areas in Africa where they have been found and are as follows: Budibugyo ebolavirus, Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, and the Zaire ebolavirus (WHO, 2014). The Zaire strain has the highest mortality rate and has been the cause of the most outbreaks. The Reston strain has been linked to causing EBV in other primates. Scientists believe the original virus originated from the African fruit bat.
The Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids or blood of an individual infected with the virus. Bodily fluids can include; blood, sweat, urine, saliva, and semen. The CDC reports that the Ebola virus can live in semen for a maximum of three months (CDC, 2014). Contraction of the virus can also come from the handling an animal that is carrying the virus. Contact can be made from person to person can be made via eyes, mouth, nose, and cuts on the skin. Needle sticks are also another way the virus can be spread from person to person, Healthcare workers are at high risk of contracting the virus so the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) is extremely important (Rachel Nall, 2014). PPE includes protective gowns, double gloves, and face masks with eye shields. Hospitals should also have proper protocols in effect for the disposal of PPE that has been worn in the presence of individuals that are showing active signs of the virus.
It should be noted that individuals can carry the virus but not be “sick” nor spread the virus to another individual. Symptoms normally begin within 21 days of being in contact with the virus. It is suggested that anyone who has been in contact with an individual known to have the active Ebola virus should isolate themselves for the 21 day incubation period, to lessen the chances of spreading the virus to others. The early and most notable signs of an active Ebola infection resemble flu like symptoms which can include fever, weakness, chills, and headache (CDC, 2014). Those who have a fever of 101.5 should seek immediate medical attention. As the disease begins to progress, the symptoms become worse and include nausea with vomiting, chest pain with coughing, stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, bloodshot eyes, rash, severe and quick weight loss, bruising, bleeding from the orifices, one of the most common being the eyes, internal bleeding and decreased functioning of the kidneys and liver. Blood work on patients with an active infection of Ebola can show low white blood count, low platelet counts, and high liver enzymes. With the symptoms of the Ebola virus mimicking the flu two specific tests are used to diagnosis the disease. Blood is collected and the specimen is tested for immunoglobulin G antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (Pierre Formenty, 2006). It should be noted that the PCR can remain negative for up the three days while the patient has the onset of symptoms, this is another reason it is important to isolate patients until a diagnosis can be made.
As of today no antiviral medications have been found to successfully treat