THE TRANSMISSION OF EBOLA VIRUS ON ANIMALS AND HUMANS
Ebola also known as “ebola hemorrhagic fever” is rare but extremely deadly. It has been briefly defined in the Oxford dictionary as an infectious and frequently fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filo virus whose normal host species is unknown. Several health practitioners have opined divergent views criticizing the definition since it gives minute and acute content about the disease. Different opinions have been given that the virus is concerned with problems of how the blood clots. It is called hemorrhagic fever virus in the sense that, the clotting problem leads to internal bleeding as blood leaks from acute blood vessels in the body.
The Ebola Virus Disease (E.V.D) was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic Of Congo. The outbreak of this fatal hemorrhagic fever had occurred two consecutive times in the central part of Africa. The first outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic Of Congo (formerly known as Zaire). The second outbreak was somehow extreme and occurred in South Sudan. In 2014, a major outbreak of the virus occurred in Africa which started in Guinea in West Africa from which 11,325 deaths were recorded. On the 30th of September, 2014 the Center for Disease Control reported the first case in the United States of America. It was ascertained that the patient caught the virus in Liberia from which he came down with his first symptom in Dallas, Texas.
However, the exact origin and natural host of the virus are unknown. The Ebola Virus Disease (E.V.D.) is believed to be an animal-borne virus. Based on similar viruses, it is perceived to have originated from bats or non-human primates who were the most likely source. Fruitbats and non-human primates are considered to be the basic carrier of the virus. Subsequently, the virus spreads from animal-to-animal, animal-to-human, and humans-to-humans.
Evidently, scientists believes that people risks infection when their domestic live stocks like pigs consume raw fruits contaminated by the fluids or droppings of fruit bats. With this information and how apes and other primates consume large quantities of fruits, its quite relevant to take notice that the virus could be transmitted to them.
Obviously, droplet infection has been recognized as the fastest medium through which the virus is transmitted. These droplets may include urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, semen, amniotic fluid and blood. The immediate contact of the fluid from an infected patient to an aseptic person creates the highest probability of acquiring the virus. It is therefore imperative for health workers to adhere strictly to prevention tips. There have been several records health-care workers getting infected by the virus whiles treating ebola patients. This is likely to occur when infection control precautions are strictly not adhered to.
An unprecedented number of ebola virus infections among health-care workers and patients have raised questions about our understanding of ebola virus transmission through contaminated objects. Infected objects keenly contributes incessantly to the transmission of ebola virus. These contaminated items may include clothes, beddings, needles and medical equipment. The usage of these objects by an infected patient contaminates the object making it a secondary reservoir for the virus.
Further more, aerosol transmission of the virus occurs when small virus-laden droplets evaporates before settling on surfaces leaving behind infectious droplet nuclei that can travel long distances. Series of experiment had led to the conclusion that the virus cannot be transmitted through air. There is no evidence of airborne transmission of the ebola virus in humans. However, epidemiological data had led to the understanding that they may condense to fluids which could then be spread through body contact. This transmission is unarguably slow.
Normally, our knowledge about human-to-human ebola virus transmission is preliminary based on epidemiological evidence received from previous outbreaks. Particularly, E.V.D. infection during pregnancy is associated with fatal obstetrical complications. While reports of mother-to-child E.V.D. transmission are limited, it is suspected to transfer via trans placental, transvaginal, or breastfeeding routes. Evidences supporting this claim are studies confirming the presence of the virus in maternal fluids such as blood, vagina secretions, placenta and breast milk acquired during the maternal stage of the E.V.D. infection.
Also, recent epidemics of the Ebola Virus Disease in Africa have increased the potential acquiring the virus via donated blood and blood components from infected patients. Though, ebola transmission through blood has not been described yet, blood has been recognized as one of the basic fluids required for the transmission of the virus. The risk is therefore is related to the presence of the virus in the donor’s blood. Subsequently, the immediate transfusion of such infected blood without meticulous screening is likely to result in the transmission of the virus to the uninfected patient.
The ebola virus do not exhibit signs and symptoms early from the time of infection. This explains why it is difficult to ascertain whether a patient has it at the early stage. They show up after 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus. Normally, the symptoms of the virus exhibits itself in two phases. The first phase is also referred as the dry symptoms. The dry symptoms may include fever, aches, pains and fatigue. The second phase known as the wet symptoms also include diarrhoea, bleeding, nausea and vomiting.
The dry symptoms usually show up at the early stage of the virus. The dry symptoms usually begin with fever. Fever, typically means the rising of an individual’s body temperature. A normal body temperature ranges from 97.5°F to 98.9°F. It is usually lower in the morning and higher in the evening. Fever resulting from ebola can be as high as 100.4°F or higher. Consequently, the individual advances to sweat, looses a lot of water in the body and then begins to dehydrate.
Undoubtedly, the patient experiences excruciating headache, muscular and joint pains. Headache been one of the primary signs of ebola can be very sever especially at dawn and midnight. It brings a painful sensation to any part of the head which may be sharp or dull.
Subsequently, the patient starts to experience severe pains in his joints and muscles. Studies in E.V.D. has proved that the virus specifically do destroys muscles and the body’s coagulation system. This creates agonizing pain in the muscles.
Fatigue and body weakness stands out as a common symptom for many diseases and viruses. The E.V.D. is of no exception. The two words are usually used interchangeably but actually carries different meanings. They actually describe two different sensations. Fatigue is normally when the patient feels overtired, with low energy and a desire to sleep which probably interrupts normal daily activities. Body weakness on the other hand is the lack of physical and muscle strength. These two symptoms contributes to weaken the body thoroughly.
The second phase of the symptoms of ebola commonly known as the wet symptoms probably indicates the severity of the infection if no proper treatment is given to it. These late symptoms of the ebola virus are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding which may be internal or external. Acute diarrhea in the normal sense may include loose watery stools and unformed feaces that occur more frequently than usual. This is mostly accompanied with nausea and vomiting. The release of the watery stools and the forceful discharge of stomach contents causes severe dehydration. It is a common complication related to vomiting. Moreover, clinical manifestations in infected patients have proved that, as the virus proceeds to cause damage to the immune system, it ultimately causes level of blood clotting cells to drop. This subsequently leads to uncontrollable bleeding. The virus may damage the walls of tiny blood vessels and makes them to leak. However, the patient may bleed externally through stools.
The 2014-2016 ebola virus disease outbreak in western part of Africa led to thousands of deaths. Despite significant advances in research, management and control efforts that have been put in place, E.V.D. infection persists as a public concern and health threat to susceptible populations. There are currently two treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of the ebola virus. These are the inmazeb and the ebanga. Despite the conscientious effort to provide treatment for the virus, it is important that we take into consideration precaution measures to aid in preventing the virus. As the old may put it “prevention is better than cure”. The first most imperative measure to aid in preventing the spread of the virus is mainly social distancing. Due to the high probability of an individual acquiring the virus through body contact, people must be advised to distance themselves from places of known outbreak. Moreover, avoid contact with items that may have come into contact with an infected person. The sharing of such items should be highly discouraged. Avoid contact with semen from a man who had recovered from the ebola virus until he test negative. The virus can remain in certain body fluids especially semen though the person may no longer exhibit severe symptoms of the virus.
Most importantly, avoid funeral or burial practices that involves touching of someone who died from the ebola virus or was a suspect of it. Many African countries are tied up to their deep rooted indigenous culture which allows for such practices. It must therefore be discouraged. Avoid contacts with bats and non- human primates such as chimpanzees, apes and monkeys. Since these organisms are believed to be the initial carrier of the virus, close contact with these organisms will exceedingly contribute to mass infection.
In the light of the forgoing discussion, it is evidently clear that the virus can be a threat to human life due to its highly lethal and infections behavior since its discovery in 1976. It is therefore of vital importance that precautions and measures to aid minimize the spread of this epidemic should taken into acc