The Ebola Virus

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The Ebola virus was discovered in 1976. It has four strains, each from a different geographic area, but all give their victims the same painful, often lethal symptoms. The Ebola virus and Marburg virus are the two known members of the Filovirus family. Marburg is a relative of the Ebola virus. The four strains of Ebola are Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Reston, and Ebola Tai. Each one is named after the location where it was discovered. These filoviruses cause hemorrhagic fever, which is actually what kills victims of the Ebola virus. Hemorrhagic fever is defined as a group of viral aerosol infections, characterized by fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms. This is followed by capillary hemorrhages, and, in severe infection, kidney failure, hypotension, and, possibly, death. The incubation period for Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever ranges from 2-21 days. The blood fails to clot and patients may bleed from injection sites and into the gastrointestinal tract, skin and internal organs. Massive destruction of the liver is one distinct symptom of Ebola. This virus does in ten days what it takes AIDS ten years to do. It also requires bio-safety level four containment, the highest and most dangerous level. HIV the virus that causes AIDS requires only a bio-safety level of two. In reported outbreaks, 50%-90% of cases have been fatal. Ebola can be spread in a number of ways. Ebola reproduction in infected cells takes about eight hours. Hundreds to thousands of new virus cells are then released during periods of a few hours to a few days. In most outbreaks, transmission from patient to patient within hospitals has been associated within the reuse of needles and syringes. High rates of transmission in outbreaks have occurred from patients to family members who provide nursing care without barriers to prevent exposure to blood, other body fluids such as, vomit, urine and feces. Risk for transmitting the infection appears to be highest during the later stages of illness. Those symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, shock, and frequently hemorrhaging. Even a person who has recovered from the symptoms of the illness may have the virus present in the genital secretions for a short time after. This makes it possible for the virus to be spread by sexual activity. Complete recovery is reached only when none virus’s cells are left in any body fluids. This is quite rare. Ebola Zaire was identified in 1976 in Northern Zaire and was the first documented appearance of the virus.

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