The virus spreads through the body damaging the immune system and organs such as liver and kidney. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.Symptoms typically start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pains, and headaches. Typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point, some people begin to have bleeding problems.
How do you get Ebola? The virus may be acquired upon contact with body, blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal (commonly monkeys or fruit bats)and man. Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment. Fruit bats are believed to carry and spread the virus without being affected. Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people as well. Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months. Those who care for a sick person or bury someone who has died from the disease often get it. Other ways to get Ebola include touching contaminated needles or surfaces.
You can’t get Ebola from air, water, or food. A person who has Ebola but has no symptoms can’t spread the disease, either.
Ebola can feel like the flu or other illnesses. Symptoms show up 2 to 21 days after infection and usually include:
- High fever
- Joint and muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Stomach pain
- Lack of appetite
As the disease gets worse, it causes bleeding inside the body, as well as from the eyes, ears, and nose. Some people will vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea, and get a rash.Diagnosis
Typically other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are first excluded. To confirm the diagnosis blood and tissue samples are tested for viral antibodies, viral RNA, or the virus itself.
Prevention includes decreasing the spread of disease from infected monkeys and pigs to humans. This may be done by checking such animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as are wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease. Samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.
There is no specific treatment for the disease; efforts to help persons who are infected include giving either oral rehydration therapy (slightly sweet and salty water to drink) or intravenous fluids. The disease has high mortality rate: often killing between 50% and 90% of those infected with the virus. EVD was first identified in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The disease typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. From 1976 (when it was first identified) through 2013, fewer than 1,000 people per year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. As of August 2014 more than 1750 suspected cases have been reported. Efforts are ongoing to develop a vaccine; however, none yet exists.
No ebola virus-specific treatment exists. Treatment is primarily supportive in nature and includes minimizing invasive procedures, balancing fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration, administration of anticoagulants early in infection to prevent or control disseminated intravascular coagulation, administration of procoagulants late in infection to control bleeding, maintaining oxygen levels, pain management, and the use of medications to treat bacterial or fungal secondary infections. Early treatment may increase the chance of survival. A number of experimental treatments are being studied.
Favipiravir–was created by a Fujifilm subsidiary, Toyama Chemical Co., and approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in March. It inhibits viral gene replication within infected cells to prevent propagation. Application for trial has been made to FDA in the USA.
ZMapp - was developed by San Diego Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. It is currently being use to treat two American doctors infected in Liberia. They are hospitalized at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.