Ebola is a rare and very deadly disease that is caused by the infection with a strain of the Ebola virus. In the year 2014, the largest breakout of Ebola was reported. This epidemic affected many countries in West Africa. In the United States, we had our first scare of Ebola when an infected person from West Africa came into the country and was treated. He eventually died. Ebola is normally spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids from an infected person or someone who has died from Ebola. EMERGING INFECTIOUS 3 Emerging Infectious Disease: Ebola.
The Ebola virus is a very serious disease which often ends up in death. This virus is a filovirus infection which means that when looking at the virus through a microscope it shows various unusual shapes. Some filovirus are circular, some are shaped like fish hooks among other shapes. There are five different species of the Ebola virus but the most common one is the Zaire ebolavirus which is the cause of the current outbreak in West Africa. Ebola virus is caused by contact with contaminated body fluids or tissue from animals who are infected.
This type of transmission may happen while hunting or when humans eat the infected meats of animals. Eating food which is already contaminated with the feces of bats may also cause this virus. The virus is also transmitted from human to human through contact with body fluids of an infected person. Body fluids include sweat, blood, feces, vomit, saliva and genital secretions. The Ebola virus is not airborne. Those who are at risk includes those that have been in close contact with persons who are infected with the virus including healthcare workers. Persons who have been in areas with the Ebola outbreak are also at risk.
Persons who have come into contact with wildlife that is infected can also be infected with the Ebola. Contact with needles, clothing, bedding and other medical equipment that have been tainted. There have been measures taken to prevent and control this virus. Once infection is suspected, the person is placed in quarantine for 21 days. This is necessary in order to prevent contamination. These persons are placed in isolation until the infected person is tested negative.
The use of PPE which is personal protective equipment is also a means of preventing the spread of Ebola virus PPE includes: gloves, gown, face shield etc. This should be worn by healthcare EMERGING INFECTIOUS 4 workers caring for the Ebola patients. Anyone who has been in contact with the suspected Ebola patient including family friends and work colleague. Must be monitored during this 21 day period. Once symptoms are seen they include fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea and vomiting. The diarrhea and vomiting causes dehydration. When examining a patient suspected of being infected with Ebola, precautionary measures would be taken.
Vital signs are important in the diagnosis of Ebola. Temperature greater than 37. 5 degree Celsius, low blood pressure, slow hear rate followed by increased heart rate are all important things to look for. Treatment for Ebola is only effective if the virus is recognized early and the necessary precautions are followed including isolation. Patients who live in areas where there is little or no medical care often die from this disease. Oral rehydration solutions are given to patients who are able to take medicine by mouth and those who are not severely dehydrated. Intravenous fluids are also given.
Paracetamol is given for fever and pain. Morphine is also given for severe pain. Oral or intravenous antiemetic are given for nausea and vomiting and antacids for heart burn and upper abdominal pain. There are experimental treatment s for Ebola in the making but there is still more work to be done in terms of testing for their safety and effectiveness. The most known treatment for Ebola that is thought to be the best is ZMapp which is comprised of three humanized monoclonal antibodies.
According to Beeching, Fenech, and Houlihan “patients who live through the second week of infection have more than a 75% chance of surviving. Patients are normally discharged from the isolation facility when they are ambulant, able to self-care, have no serous symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting or bleeding and have two negative Ebola RT-PCR results taken 48 hours apart” (pg. 8).
Patients who are recovering from Ebola need to be educated about the possibilities of complications which may prove to be longterm. Patients who have been rid of the Ebola virus may be asked to donate blood after 28 days and this blood is EMERGING INFECTIOUS 5 used to treat persons with active infection. Male patients should also be educated about the use of condoms within three months to prevent sexual transmitted diseases.
Women are also advised not to breastfeed so they do not pass infection to their children. Survivors of Ebola may face scorn and stigma when they are in the community. This is due mainly in part to lack of education about this disease in the wider community.
EMERGING INFECTIOUS 6 References Beeching, N. , Frenech, M. , Houlihan, C. (2014). Ebola Virus Disease. The BMJ, 349, 1- 15, doi: 10. 1136/7348.