The World's Fight Against Microbes

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The World's Fight Against Microbes

Many infectious diseases that were nearly eradicated from the

industrialized world, and newly emerging diseases are now breaking out all over

the world due to the misuse of medicines, such as antibiotics and antivirals,

the destruction of our environment, and shortsighted political action and/or


Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a group of diseases caused by viruses from

four distinct families of viruses: filoviruses, arenaviruses, flaviviruses, and

bunyaviruses. The usual hosts for most of these viruses are rodents or

arthropods, and in some viruses, such as the Ebola virus, the natural host is

not known. All forms of viral hemorrhagic fever begin with fever and muscle

aches, and depending on the particular virus, the disease can progress until the

patient becomes deathly ill with respiratory problems, severe bleeding, kidney

problems, and shock. The severity of these diseases can range from a mild

illness to death (CDC I).

The Ebola virus is a member of a family of RNA (ribonucleic acid)

viruses known as filoviruses. When these viruses are magnified several thousand

times by an electron microscope they have the appearance of long filaments or

threads. Filoviruses can cause hemorrhagic fever in humans and animals, and

because of this they are extremely hazardous. Laboratory studies of these

viruses must be carried out in special maximum containment facilities, such as

the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia and the United States

Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), at Fort

Detrick in Frederick, Maryland (CDC I,II).

The Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans is a severe, systemic illness

caused by infection with Ebola virus. There are four subtypes of Ebola virus

(Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Ivory Coast, and Ebola-Reston), which are not

just variations of a single virus, but four distinct viruses. Three of these

subtypes are known to cause disease in humans, and they are the Zaire, Sudan,

and Ivory Coast subtypes. Out of all the different viral hemorrhagic fevers

known to occur in humans , those caused by filoviruses have been associated with

the highest case-fatality rates. These rates can be as high as 90 percent for

epidemics of hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola-Zaire virus. No vaccine exists to

protect from...

... middle of paper ...

... Yet a bacterium can kill a whale ... Such is the adaptability and

versatility of microorganisms as compared with humans and other so called

"higher" organisms, that they will doubtless continue to colonise and alter the

face of the Earth long after we and the rest of our cohabitants have left the

stage forever. Microbes, not macrobes, rule the world.

- Bernard Dixon,


Works Cited

CDC(I).Ebola Virus Hemorrhagic Fever: General Information.[1996, November 20].

CDC(II). Filoviruses in Nonhuman Primates: Overview of the Investigation in


November 20].

Garrett, Laurie. The Coming Plague. Farrar, Straus. and Giroux: New York, 1994.

Mosby’s Medical, Mursing, and Allied Health Dictionary 4th Ed. .

Mosby-Year Book, Inc.: St.Louis,1994.

Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. Random House Inc.: New York, 1994.

Roizman, Bernard. Infectious Diseases in an Age of Change. National Academy

Press: Washington,D.C., 1995.

Top, Franklin H. . Communicable and Infectious Diseases. C.V. Mosby Company:

St.Louis, 1964.
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