Ebola Virus: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
Also known as ‘Ebola hemorrhagic fever’, it is a deadly virus.
It is rare but has common symptoms like fever, body aches and even diarrhea.
Why it’s harmful is because it can damage the immune system and the organs.
It can lead to uncontrollable bleeding and blood-clotting cells are significantly affected.
Ebola Virus 101
So what exactly is the Ebola virus? As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.
This blog will discuss all you need to know about the virus which kills 90% of people who are infected.
It is a deadly disease and starts off with a virus. It consists of five strains. These strains can make you sick.
According to disease control and prevention, when it enters the body, it kills cells.
The virus has extremely harmful body effects as it completely ruins the immune system.
Heavy bleeding takes place and organs are impacted too.
The silver lining is however it isn’t as common as other infectious diseases. You can only get it if you have direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person. It is most common in West Africa.
Now we will identify the common symptoms of this virus:
Symptoms of Ebola Virus:
The time frame between when the infection sets in to when you start feeling the onset of the symptoms, is usually from 2 to 21 days.
One thing to note here is that a person will not be able to infect another person with this virus unless and until that person first develops the symptoms.
Most common symptoms of the virus are:
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- In certain cases, you will also have impaired kidney and liver function
- Severe cases can also have internal and external bleeding
- Oozing from the gums
- Blood in stool
You might be wondering how the virus even came into existence. Let’s get into the depth of the history of the Ebola virus:
History of Ebola Virus in Humans
The virus was discovered in 1976. It took place when there were two outbreaks of the fatal haemorrhagic fever in various regions of Central Asia.
It was in a village near the Ebola River where the first outbreak happened in the region of Congo; there were no proper healthcare settings
The second outbreak and people infected with ebola rose in Sudan.
Interestingly it was first assumed that the same person carried the virus and caused the outbreak in one place and then the other.
However later on, scientists discovered it was more than that. There are two variations of the virus- the Zaire virus and Sudan virus.
The virus was independently spreading across both the regions.
There are also speculations that the virus in fact existed even before the recorded data from these two places was taken into account. It was again at areas where medical help and counselling wasn’t readily available.
Some contributing factors to the spread of the virus include things like destructed of forested regions and direct contact with wildlife.
Diagnosis and Causes
It is important that the virus be identified in a patient early in its onset. This helps to combat the symptoms and avoid any serious complications from happening. Moving ahead, you will see how the diagnostics process is carried to know if you are the carrier of the virus or no:
Some of the common diagnostic methods applied are:
- Antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- Antigen-capture detection tests
- Serum neutralization test
- Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
- Electron microscopy
- Virus isolation by cell culture
When it comes to opting for a diagnosis, some specifications which are taken into account are:
- Disease incidence
- Disease prevalence
- Technical specifications
- Social implications
- Medical implications
Experts consider that tests which are of international evaluation should be opted for.
WHO provides the list of the following recommended tests:
Automated or semi-automated nucleic acid tests (NAT) for routine diagnostic management.
Rapid antigen detection tests- for screening purposes as part of surveillance activities
Specimen Collection Includes:
Since it is considered to be a biohazard risk, samples collection is a tough task. Also the laboratory testing is to be done under extreme biological containment conditions.
Medical experts will ensure the specimen is packed using a triple packaging, be it for national or international transportation.
It is important that it be carefully sealed and is not exposed to any person.
Whole blood collected in ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) if showing symptoms
Oral fluid – this is taken when you can’t take samples from blood collection from the deceased patients
Looking at Causes of Ebola:
The major cause of Ebola is usually very high fever. This occurs due to a virus infection which triggers coagulation abnormalities.
These abnormalities include gastrointestinal bleeding, having heavy rash, cytokine release and liver damage.
This escalates further and the microvascular endothelial cells become damaged or destroyed. This will result in internal and external bleeding.
It will also include uncontrollable bleeding in nasal passages and the mouth and gums as well as eyes. You will need immediate attention and careful
This intensive bleeding can lead to blood and fluid loss which causes hypertensive shock. This stage is often accelerated towards the death of Ebola-infected patients.
Complications and Prevention
It is a disease which causes intensive problems.
Read on to know ways in which these concerns can happen and how you can manage them well.
Those who also get cured from it, they too will face certain risks and concerns which need to be managed in the long run.
Some of the major concerns and problems with it is that it leads to organic failures. This includes:
- Heavy bleeding
For those who are able to survive this disease, they can still face certain complications which are long-lasting effects.
Some common symptoms among survivors are:
- Hair loss
- Sensory issues
- High inflammation of organs (for example, the testicles and the eyes)
The virus affects patients who survived; it can also remain in the semen for more than 6 months. However researchers have determined that getting infected by the virus in semen is not likely.
Also the virus can infect the eyes.
Fortunately with treatments with steroids and antiviral agents is known to help solve the issue and bring eyes back to normal within a few months.
Patients are still suggested to go for regular eye-checkups for a few months, despite being cured by the Ebola infection.
Prevention of Ebola Outbreak
According to the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease), the following prevention tactics will help in combating the harmful effects of the Ebola virus:
- Applying interventions like laboratory service and social mobilization
- Community engagement to analyze the need to control outbreaks
- Raising risk factor awareness
- Adapting protective measures
- Reduce human transmission
- Reduce and limit wildlife to human transmission- this includes limiting exposure to infected fruit bats, monkeys, porcupines and apes.
- These are animals are highly likely to carry the virus
- Consume properly cooked meat
- Handling animal products (blood and meat) with proper gloves and protective clothing
- Reduce or abandon human contact with those exposed by the virus
- Isolate if you are exhibiting symptoms of the virus
- Adapt regular hand washing
There are certain containment measures too you need to adapt, including:
- Identifying the ones you were in contact that likely contracted the virus
- Monitoring their health for at least 3 weeks
- Separate the sick from the healthy and prevent further spread
- Ensuring the importance of good hygiene
- Maintaining a clean environment
- Contact with body fluids should be avoided
- Washing with soap and water
- Pregnant women can get community support so that they can attend frequent antenatal care (ANC) visits and manage pregnancy complications properly.
Your Ebola and Obstetric health care expertise will provide a solid plan layout to base this upon.
How Is Ebola Treated
Unfortunately there is still no definite cure for this virus.
However researchers are working on it rigorously to combat the symptoms effectively.
One drug treatment which is known to give good results is the Inmazeb.
It is basically a mixture of three monoclonal antibodies.
There are still some other treatment possibilities which include an experimental serum that researchers have determined helps to destroy the infected cells of the body. Doctors try to manage symptoms in a few tried and tested ways. These include:
- Fluids and electrolytes
- Blood pressure medication
- Blood transfusions provide good results and maintain stability