Ebola is a condition caused by the Ebola virus which causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It causes viral hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates. It has a high risk of fatality with death occurring between 25 to 90 percent of those who are affected due to low blood pressure from loss of fluid. Death usually occurs in six to sixteen days after the symptoms begin. The virus is transmitted via contact with bodily fluids such as blood from infected individuals or other animals. Spread can also occur when there is contact with items that are contaminated with bodily fluids. The spread of the disease through the air has not been documented in either laboratory or natural conditions. For those who have recovered from Ebola virus disease, the semen or breast milk can still carry the virus from several weeks to months. Fruit bats are potentially normal carriers and can spread the virus without being affected. Other diseases such as typhoid fever, meningitis, malaria, and cholera can resemble Ebola virus disease and blood samples are needed to test for viral RNA and antibodies to confirm the diagnosis.
Outbreaks can be controlled through coordinated community help and medical services. Contact tracing, rapid detection, access to laboratory services, care for the infected, and proper handling of those who have died through cremation or burial are all necessary. Samples of bodily fluids must be handled carefully. Prevention includes limiting the spread of Ebola virus disease from animals to humans and vice versa, cooking thoroughly before eating, wearing protective clothing, and hand washing. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the virus. Supportive management such as oral rehydration fluids, intravenous fluids, and treating symptoms can improve the outcome for the affected patients. Ebola virus disease outbreaks can occur occasionally in the tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Between the years 1976 to 2013, the World Health Organization has reported a total of 24 outbreaks with 1,716 cases. The largest outbreak occurred in West Africa between December 2013 to January 2016 where there were 28,616 cases with 11,310 deaths.
Ebola Symptom #1: Fever
Fever is also known as a febrile response or pyrexia where there is a temperature that is higher than the normal range. This is an increase in the body’s temperature set point. This increase causes muscle contractions and the sensation of being cold. The contractions result in more heat production and increased efforts for heat conservation.
The affected individual may feel hot, look flushed, and sweat once the set-point of body temperature returns to normal. In younger patients, a febrile seizure may also occur. Experts believe that a fever helps the body’s immune system to fight an infection more effectively.