Africa, Science & Tech

The Ebola Outbreak Explained

What is this ebola virus everyone is talking about? Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, more commonly known as Ebola Virus Disease is a disease caused by ebolavirus that can kill a human or other primate in a mere few days.

The virus was first discovered back in 1976. The first symptoms of the virus are headaches, sore throat and fever. The following symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and rash which lead to liver and kidney failure. By the last stages a person can have internal or external bleeding at any time. The disease can be contracted from person to person, by bodily fluids, but air travel is still being researched.

Due to the major outbreak of the disease there is a lot of research that scientists are being pressured to report back. Everyone wants the best cure they can find, the issue is trying to test the disease in clinical trials on humans for the first time and not causing them to get worse. There is still a lot of research for finding the perfect cure for the ebola virus disease. The disease is to believed to have been contracted from Central America to Sierra Leone, where it was then transmitted to two more countries. To date over 1500 people have died, and 3000 infected with the ebolavirus in the four infected countries.

The virus is believed to have the fruit bat as its animal host. This is one of the ways that the virus has spread through Central Africa, which is how the last outbreak was spread. The bats fly between parts of the country and spread the disease within each other’s groups and cause a spread all over Africa. Their droppings or released bodily fluids can then get passed onto humans which causes them to be infected by the disease. The bat is immune to the disease that it carries, only being able to spread it to humans or other primates. While the virus has spread, the researchers have also been infected and have passed away from the most recent of ebola testing. The Ola During hospital was the first to admit a four­year­old boy in Africa. This is the country’s only pediatric center, which had to be shut down when the boy died, and quarantine the staff to wait out the virus for 21 days. The staff that had to be quarantined choose not to go back to work due to fear of contracting the ebola virus.

The virus is now spreading into the far provinces, and into cities where the maximum outbreak of the ebola virus is believed to cap at 20,000 diagnosed. Two american doctors working in africa had become admitted into hospitals in America where they were treated and vaccinated with the ebola virus. Both had survived from the virus and are able to work again.

The most recent suspected case of ebola outside Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria was in Senegal. America has come up with a curing experimental drug. Now that they have heard of america creating a vaccination that cured, everyone is pressuring for vaccines to be made to use in mass trials for prevention and curing of the disease. It can take up to 21 days to tell if you have the disease, and is fatal after about 9 days of contracting it.

Some good news is currently on its way. There is a new experiental drug that has been proven to 100% cure the ebola virus disease. The catch is that the trial was done completely on rhesus monkeys, which body systems are most similar to our own. The new experimental drug’s name is ZMapp. The rhesus monkeys were first injected with a lethal dose of ebola.Then three groups of animals infected with the ebola virus were given different intervals of the ZMapp drug. If the drug was discontinued before day eight the monkey would die. Two monkeys were injected with the ebola virus and not given the experimental drug and died within nine days. One of the biggest issues with research is that there are any different strains of the ebola virus floating around. This means there may have to be more than one drug made to cure the virus. Currently, ZMapp is the only known experimental ebola drug that can fight off a few different strains of the virus. The strain that was used to infect the rhesus monkeys is not the same strain as the newest Zaire strain floating around in West Africa.

Ever heard that tobacco kills? The new drug ZMapp is actually made in tobacco plants that have been scientifically modified to produce thr antibodies thay make ZMapp. Yes, the drug that big companies are trying to get consumers to stop smoking is actually helping to reproduce the drug at a faster rate. This way a vaccine can be tested and sent out faster. The cells inside tobacco plant are sped up so that they produce the drug at a faster rate. The goal is to contain the virus before it spreads any further in the world. Senegal, another part of Africa has just reported a confirmed case of ebola, where human testing has to be performed, and ebola emergency procedure’s have to be confirmed even if the person turns out to be negative.

Regardless of how the drug is being tested, everyone is just waiting for the vaccines to be made for mass clinical trials. If the drug can kill most of the strains, then the outbreak will be contained and there will be less fatalities. Everyone wants to know that there is a hope to surviving from the disease even if it is not known to completely cure for every strain. As long as there is a strain that can be cured they know the outbreak will discontinue.

One of the scares of the ebola disease was an adult male in Sweden who turned out to be negative for the virus. The doctors had analyzed the test for the patient and everything came back negative. He was originally showing the initial symptoms of the disease such as muscle pain, fever, and headache. This was such a relief, as this would have been a huge spread of the disease if the test results had come back positive. Even though the test came back negative though, for health precautions the health care workers still followed the Ebola emergency procedures.

The biggest nightmare other than the spreading, is that the little cities are being affected. Africa is working to try to contain the virus so that the spread doesn’t become any bigger than hopefully the estimated 20,000 people that are believed to eventually be diagnosed with the disease.

About Alyssa Roberts

Alyssa is a freelance journalist based in northern California and a biology university student. By day she is a manager of a veterinary hospital and by night, she studies biology and performs creative writing. On her free time she enjoys geocaching, freelance writing and creating her own personal stories.

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