In recent months Ebola has once again become a household name and a huge concern for many people around the world. In the wake of over 5,000 recent deaths worldwide and over 14,000 reportedly infected, uneasiness about the infectious disease has sparked fear and interest in learning more about the disease. While news outlets seem to report new stories about the disease nearly everyday, not many reports are focused on the explanation of the Ebola virus. The medical definition of the Ebola Virus is a Ribonucleic Acid virus that presents a dangerous fever often with bleeding that expands within the body and is transferred from the affected via bodily fluids and or secretions.
With that definition one can see why it could be difficult to understand the disease in depth. The virus is one of two viruses in the family of Filoviridae viruses referred to as Filoviruses. While the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 in Northern Zaire, the filovirus was discovered years earlier in 1967 in Germany and Yugoslavia. In this instance the other Filovirdae virus, Marburgvirus was discovered. The name for the virus derived from the place of the outbreak Marburg, Germany. There were 318 cases of Marburgvirus reported and 88 percent of those cases were fatal.
Scientifically, Ebola is composed of viral particles also known as virions. The filovirus virions have been known to present themselves in various shapes. The particles increase by reproducing from hosts’ cells. Knowledge of how the virus operates is very extensive. However, its operation is not entirely understood.
Because the infectious disease is a virus, animals are also susceptible to it. Animal and pet owners should apply the same precautionary measures with their animals as they would with humans. Part of the definition of Ebola is the way the virus is spread, through “ bodily fluids or secretions”. In this recent outbreak several people have had to be quarantined because of the danger of it being transmitted to others.
The way in which the virus is spread and cured are two additional reasons why Ebola defined is vital. Knowledge is power. Ensuring hydration of those infected seems to be the single most important means of keeping the infected alive. An important preventive measure is making sure that people who are free of the virus are not coming into contact with the bodily fluids of the infected or with any objects that could possibly be contaminated by the infected’s bodily fluids.
The virus itself exhibits very unique symptoms including fever, hemorrhaging, vomiting, and diarrhea. Once the symptoms present, the individual is infected and the disease is contagious. The person will need to seek immediate medical attention and be safely quarantined. The largest challenge of containing the disease is that everyone the infected individual has come in contact with from the time of infection needs to be quarantined as well.
Having Ebola defined for the public is thought by many to be a way to help to ease some panic and fright across the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “The virus poses a very low risk to people in the United States.” The intent is for people to be empowered through knowledge. The best way to counteract the virus is by educating people on how it is spread and on what the preventive measures are. Also having access to the necessary medical technologies should aid in successfully preventing outbreaks of new cases.
By April Brown
Photo Courtesy of US Army Africa – Flickr License