The ebola virus is a very complex level four virus. Level four viruses are extremely lethal, and there is no cure for them yet, not does there seem to be a cure for them or ebola in the near future. To give you an example of just how lethal level four viruses like ebola are, AIDS is only a level three virus, and requires minimal protection when working with it. The protection required for working with the ebola virus consists of wearing three layers of gloves, and giant space suits. Only people with top government security are allowed into these airtight rooms where this all takes place. The virus is a member of the family filoviridae.
In this family, there are only three viruses that apply, and they are all practically identical, with only one thing that distinguishes them from each other. This is “that their enzyme sequences, are slightly different”(Murphy, 2). While there are three different viruses that fit in this family, there are also three different strains of the ebola virus: Sudan, Zaire, and Reston. Reston has its own classification in the filoviridae family, because it is not as lethal as the other two, and because it has mutated to become airborne. Out of the three strains of ebola, Reston is the only one that is not lethal to humans.
It is only lethal to monkeys. It tends to give humans flu like symptoms, and disappears within a couple of days. “The very first known outbreak of ebola, occurred in 1976, in both Sudan, and Zaire. The last known outbreak occurred in May of 1999, in a region of the Congo”(Sgro & Spencer, 8). The ebola virus is transmitted only through the contact of infected bodily fluids. Although, the virus is transmitted through only bodily fluids, the virus was believed to originate in monkeys. For monkeys have been the culprits in the two outbreaks that have occurred in the United States.
An associated press writer stated “the first outbreaks of ebola began when some local natives found a monkey in the forest, and began eating the raw flesh from it”(Johnson, 1). The monkeys, who seemed to have contained the virus, then passed it on to the humans, through the monkey’s blood. The only strain of ebola that can be spread otherwise is ebola Reston. This strain is an airborne strain of ebola, but since it is not lethal to humans, it is not that big of a threat to us. Once you have contracted the virus, it invades your cells, and multiplies very rapidly.
It quickly moves from cell to cell, multiplying and destroying as it goes. Your cells become so destroyed and mangled that they eventually explode. Soon after this, you begin to show the symptoms of the virus. This includes headaches, backaches, fever, vomiting, hemorrhaging both internally and externally, your skin is jaundice, with pink lesions all over it and your face seems comatose. Internally, you bleed into yourself. The patient usually dies within ten days of the first symptoms. The final stage of the virus, is the crash and bleeding out stage. This is the stage where the infected person bleeds from every orifice of his/her body, and finally dies.
It is so bad, that when the autopsy is performed, you can not tell what is what; everything (all organs) seem to run together. The ebola virus is not only very lethal, but it is also much more virulent than other viruses. This means that not only does it kill many people quickly, it is also extremely hostile in doing so. The ebola virus’s mortality rate varies from source to source. The range also depends on what strain of ebola that is being observed, because one strain is more lethal than the others are. The mortality rate range is about fifty to ninety percent.
Ebola Sudan has about a sixty seven percent mortality rate, whereas ebola Zaire has an eighty eight percent mortality rate in humans. Ebola Reston on the other hand has no mortality rate in humans what so ever, but it is extremely fatal to monkeys. In most outbreaks of the two most severe strains, nine out of ten people infected with the virus have died. Most viruses are curable, and do not kill you quickly and severely like the ebola virus does. Most viruses have survivors, but the ebola virus has little to no survivors at all. Well, so you think to yourself, a deadly virus, and no big deal.
Why should we worry with all of our vaccines and all of our medical knowledge, we would never have something that bad in America? Especially since the majority of the outbreaks that occur seem to occur in mainly Zaire. People seem to think, there is just no possible way that a virus like that could be anywhere except Africa, where they are no where near as sanitary as we are. Well, this little theory that most people seem to have, is no longer true. As we get closer to the millennium, there seem to be more and more ebola outbreaks, in more places all over the world.
In the past thirty-two years, there have been at least thirty-five different outbreaks, in numerous countries all over the world. All of these outbreaks have varied, for the three different strains seem to rotate their appearances. There have been outbreaks in Zaire, Sudan, Italy, Gabon, Congo, the Philippines, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and even closer to home, Virginia, and even Texas. Yes there was an outbreak in Texas, about two years ago, in a little town north of Corpus, called Alice. “This outbreak involved monkeys only, not humans, for this was an outbreak of the Reston strain of ebola(Jackson, 1).
This outbreak was very similar to the outbreak in Reston, Virginia a couple of years before. Except this outbreak was a smaller outbreak, with less of a panic, and there were fewer monkeys involved. These two outbreaks were from the transporting of monkeys in and out of different parts of the world. Countries have now become much more careful in how they transport monkeys in and out. The majority of these outbreaks have occurred over the past ten years. All of the outbreaks seem to be getting closer to each other, and in a wider variety of countries.
Instead of the outbreaks occurring about every ten years or so, they seem to occur a couple or more times a year. When there is an outbreak, the countries involved become very careful with what they are doing. They seal the borders, and stop all people from coming in and going out of the country, and they become much more sanitary. So, here we have it. The Ebola virus is an extremely deadly virus that seems to waltz around all over the world. When it hits, it leaves no rock unturned or any single person untouched. Although there are a few survivors, and not all the people around it catch the virus, everyone around is somewhat affected.
For when you have something so deadly, and so quick, it is hard not to send yourself and others into a state of panic. Just because the virus seems to lurk in the shadows of Africa, beware, for this virus does to you in ten days what it takes AIDs ten years to accomplish. After the incident in Reston, Virginia, the author of the Hot Zone, Richard Preston quotes when looking into the windows of the Reston monkey house; “Life had established itself in the monkey house. Ebola had risen in these rooms, flashed its colors, fed, and subsided into the forest. It will be back”(Preston, 411).
Works Cited 1.Jackson, J. History of the Ebola Virus. 17 October 1999 http://www3. hmc. edu/~jjackson/Bio52/history. html. 2. Johnson, Chris. Ebola virus kills 10 in Gabon, February. February 1996. http://www. vsi. com/~chris/hotzone/gabon. html. 3.
Murphy, Frederick A. “Dr. Frederick A. Murphy talks about the Ebola Virus” Interview. 1999, The Ebola Virus http://www. accessexcellence. org/WN/NM/interview_Murphy. html. 4. Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. The Random House, New York. 1994 5. Spencer, Stephen, and Sgro, Jean-Yves. Molecular Virology. Updated 17 October 1999. http://www. bocklabs. wise. edu/outbreak. html.