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Question:

What is the  Ebola Virus ?
 
 

Answer :

Introduction

Ebola is one of the most aggressive contagious conditions that have the ability to cause fatal fewer syndromes that leads to the death of both humans and primates. The first case of Ebola was in the Ebola Valley in 1976. Outbreaks of the disease have occurred in the past with death rates of 50 to 90%. Despite the condition being prevalent in Africa, Ebola has become a condition with global dimensions. The derivation and habitats continue to be unidentified making the condition a severe and often fatal in human and not- human primates (Caroll and Archie, 2014).

How Ebola is transmitted

The Ebola virus is spread to people from wild animals and spreads among the human population through contact. It is not spread through air or water. The virus first came into existence in 1976 in two outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, just around the Ebola River where it then got its name. The natural host has not been discovered yet, but scientists tend to assume that the most likely natural reservoir are bats. This means that the way a human being first catches the virus which results into an outbreak has not been found out yet.

The disease is brought about by a virus which is from the genus Ebolavirus. So far there has been five known species, four in humans (Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus and Tai forest ebolavirus) and the one which causes Ebola in the primates that are not human (Reston ebolavirus).

In human-to-human transmission, (Thilmany, 2013) it is contracted by coming into contact with the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth or eyes and the broken skin of a person who already has the disease. The transmission fluids are blood or other body fluids such as semen, vomit, saliva, sweat, and urine or breast milk of someone who is suffering from the disease or has already died due to Ebola. Contact with syringes and other sharp objects such as needles, and semen from people who have recovered from Ebola, and also infected primates can transmit the virus. The medical professionals, friends, and families who come into close contact with patients suffering from Ebola are at the greatest risk of getting an infection.

Why Ebola has No Vaccine

 Ebola has not yet got a vaccine because of the extremely harmful features of the virus which make it dangerous to study, according to experts (Thilmany, 2013). Also, another cause that has limited the discovery of an effective vaccine is the rate of mortality of the victims which makes the virus had to study. In this case, the virus requires high-level safety precautions (biosafety level 4 laboratories) limiting the experiments.

Generally, scientists find it more difficult to develop a treatment for diseases caused by viruses than those caused by bacteria, and Ebola is a viral infection. Viruses are small molecules with very few proteins, thus fewer targets for treatment. This also makes it hard to develop vaccines since the body’s immunity system is a small target and the vaccines can only prepare it for the Ebola attack. The virus develops quickly, so a vaccine developed today might not protect against the future outbreak.

Also, not very many people have suffered from Ebola and very few of those infected have survived and this makes it difficult to study people who have already been infected or even getting an explanation of the specific biological factors that make other people recover. There are a number of experimental vaccines but they have not yet been made safe for human use, without a chance of infection. There are a number of candidates that have undergone trial vaccines but so far none of the viruses have undergone a full approval process. A variety of potential treatments is available, such as immunity therapy, drug therapy, and blood products which are being tested at the moment.

In addition, the study is limited because Ebola is poorly funded, in terms of body count and risk of spread to the world. Other epidemics like HIV and malaria are better funded, probably because they are continuous and do not come as outbreaks. Also, the nature of these diseases is not as unusual as Ebola.

There is a total of seven trial vaccines for Ebola. They utilize a vectored glycoprotein from Ebola viruses, introduced to the immune system without the ability to cause Ebola. The current one is EBOV?VP30, using the replication-defective strain of the virus, further treated with hydrogen peroxide to ensure it is not explicative. This one showed effective and safe immunity against the Zaire strain in the recent 2013-2016 outbreak. In the new experimental vaccine, rVSVZEBOV, scientists developed a virus that was able to replicate, cause no disease to humans and was also genetically modified to express a surface glycoprotein similar to the one produced by the Zaire species of the Ebola virus. Experimentally those exposed to the virus were vaccinated immediately, and others after twenty-one days. Those vaccinated immediately got substantial protection against the disease, with no cases occurring, while 23 individuals who got the vaccination late contracted Ebola. The incubation period for the Ebola Virus was found to be ten days (Thilmany, 2013).

These vaccinations have not had any adverse long-term effects, with those under observation after vaccination experiencing headaches, fatigue, and muscle pain. Only three serious cases were reported, one experiencing fever and the other anaphylaxis, while the last one had flu-like symptoms (Rodriguez and Daniel 2015).

Each vaccine has had to be tested on humans to know the effectiveness, some yielding somewhat effective results while for some trial ones, the patients still succumbed to the virus. These vaccines may however not prove effective if and when another outbreak occurs due to the quick evolution of the Ebola virus.

 

Public Health Management and Prevention of Ebola

There are several ways in which the Ebola condition can be managed and controlled. Since there is yet no vaccine that can be used to prevent Ebola infection there are only prevention techniques. The main objective of these prevention strategies is to prevent direct contact of the uninfected person with the body fluids of infected persons, such as blood, sweat, and mucus. Healthcare workers in charge of taking care of people with the risk of being infected by the Ebola virus should also refrain from coming into close contact with their patients’ body fluids, as they are the ones at the most risk of infection, due to their direct contact with the patients (Caroll & Archie, 2014).

People should avoid traveling to areas where there are Ebola outbreaks while the health care workers should take proper precaution when offering health care services in the areas where Ebola outbreaks are taking place.  Precautions that the health care workers can practice are for instance; putting on protective gear like goggles, gowns, masks and gloves when providing health care. There are also infection control measures that health care workers can practice as well, thorough equipment sterilization and a routine use of disinfectant. The infected persons or patients must be isolated from the uninfected persons (Johnson, 2017).

There are control guidelines for Ebola provided for Public Health Units. Ebola can, therefore, be controlled through a variety of measures. Since the vectors which are also called the reservoirs have not been identified yet, eliminating vectors from the proximity of human beings is out of the picture, however in order to control Ebola, first,  there should be an improvement in public health care, sanitation, and health education especially in schools. Second, ensuring health workers use barrier techniques and isolation when treating Ebola patients. Third, quarantining of the infected people as well as the people showing symptoms of Ebola is also a very efficient way of controlling the spread of Ebola especially when there is an outbreak. Forth, restricting or doing a very careful survey of international travel (Julian and Taylor, 2010). Lastly improving the dissemination of information uncovered in epidemiology, giving the appropriate reports and the harmonization of health departments and public notifications could be of great help.

In conclusion, although Ebola is not curable as of today, people can work together towards eliminating this dreadful virus from the face of the earth. All people need to do is be careful, get proper medical care, and follow the suggested activities to control and prevent Ebola and in no time the West and East Africa, as well as the world, will be free of Ebola.

 

References

Caroll, Archie B (2014). “Ebola Virus Disease” Academy of Management Review. 4(4): 497-405

Cornish, J. P., Diaz, L., Ricklefs, S. M., Kanakabandi, K., Sword, J., Jahrling, P. B., ... & Johnson, R. F. (2017). Sequence of Reston Virus Isolate AZ-1435, an Ebolavirus Isolate Obtained during the 1989–1990 Reston Virus Epizootic in the United States. Genome Announcements, 5(2), e01448-16.

Delta Peptide of Ebola Virus has Potent Viroporin Activity. Biophysical Journal, 112(3), 185a.

Geisbert, T. W. (2017). Persistence of Ebola virus RNA in seminal fluid. The Lancet Global Health, 5(1), e12-e13.

He, J., Melnik, L., Komin, A., Starr, C. G., Fuselier, T., Wiedman, G., ... & Garry, R. F. (2017).

Delta Peptide of Ebola Virus has Potent Viroporin Activity. Biophysical Journal, 112(3), 185a.

Julian, Taylor. (2010). Prevention and Control of Ebola. APRO Software. Retrieved 16 May 2016.

Geisbert, T. W. (2016). First Ebola virus vaccine to protect human beings?. The Lancet.

Fitzgerald, F., Wing, K., Naveed, A., Gbessay, M., Ross, J. C. G., Checchi, F., ... & Jah, H. (2017). Refining the paediatric Ebola case definition: a study of children in Sierra Leone with suspected Ebola virus disease. The Lancet, 389, S19.

Sell, T. K., Boddie, C., McGinty, E. E., Pollack, K., Smith, K. C., Burke, T. A., & Rutkow, L. (2017). Media Messages and Perception of Risk for Ebola Virus Infection, United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 23(1), 108.

Thilmany, J. (2013). Ebola Vaccine: Is it Safe? 52 (2) HR Magazine 105-110

Rodriguez, Daniel. (2015). Ebola Causes, Symptoms and Tre
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