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The Deadly Ebola Virus

explanatory Essay
1636 words
1636 words
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"The only sound is a choking in his throat as he continues to vomit while unconscious. Then comes a sound like a bed sheet being torn in half, which is the sound of his bowels opening at the sphincter and venting blood. The blood is mixed with his intestinal lining. He has sloughed off his gut. The lining of his intestines have come off and are being expelled along with huge amounts of blood" (Preston 17).

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is probably the most publicized virus since AIDS. And for a good reason too. People "crashing out," vomiting their organs, bleeding all over the place, it certainly catches one's attention. Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, Robin Cook's Outbreak and miscellaneous exposés on television have alerted the public to what was once considered a minor problem. Ebola is extremely dangerous and much study is being devoted to it so it does not become a major threat to the human race.

"Ebola is one of the most pathogenic viruses known to science, causing death in 50%- 90% of all clinically ill cases." It is known for its sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat that is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, organ disfunction and internal and external bleeding. It can be in the body 2 to 21 days before any symptoms can be noticed. There is no vaccine and scientists do not know where it originated. Ebola is transmitted by contact with blood, secretions, organs or semen of infected persons. It was first identified in Sudan and Zaire in 1976 (World 1996).

There are four known varieties of Ebola; Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Reston and Ebola Tai. Zaire, Sudan and Tai cause illness in humans and primates unlike Reston that affects primates only. What makes them different from each other is not their shape, for that is quite similar, but their gene structure.

Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan were first isolated in 1976 at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, Porton Down in England and the Institute for Tropical Diseases in Antwerp, Belgium. Years later, Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan were found to be different strains by Dr. Joseph McCormick of the CDC. In 1989, Dr. Peter Jahrling of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) identified the Reston strain. Ebola Tai was identified in 1995 by Dr. Bernard LeGuenno of Institute Pasteur in Paris.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that between september 1 and october 24, 318 cases of which 280 were fatal in the area of yambuku, zaire.
  • Reports that between june and november, 284 cases of which 141 were fatal in the towns of nzara, maridi, tembura and juba, sudan.
  • States that between july 31 and october 6, 34 cases of which 22 were fatal in the towns of nzara and yambio, sudan.
  • Explains ornstein, david, and kai matthews' frequently-asked-questions about ebola.
  • Explains that ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of the most publicized viruses since aids. it is transmitted by contact with blood, secretions, organs, and semen.
  • Explains that ebola zaire is fatal in 90% of all cases, and the reston strain is airborne, but not lethal to humans.
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