Ebola infection or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rarely occurring disease, usually found in individuals in areas where it is spread as an epidemic. The chief symptom of Ebola Virus Disease is that it causes hemorrhages (bleeding) that could b internal (not visible) or external (visible) causing blood loss in great amounts leading to fatality in almost 90% of individuals infected by Ebola Virus.
HOW IS EBOLA CONTRACTED?
The good thing about Ebola is that it isn’t a contagious disease unlike other commonly occurring diseases like Influenza, which tops the list of contagious diseases and is widely spread from person to person via droplet infection, coughing or sneezing.
As for Ebola, it is initially contracted from primates like monkeys, apes and fruit flies. Once it is contracted by a human being it can be further transmitted through:
- Body fluids from one person to another. This may be via hypodermic needles, exchange of saliva, blood or mucous with open mucous membranes of one’s body, or via sexual transmission through semen of the infected person.
- A mother infected with Ebola can also transmit it to her offspring via breast milk.
- Ebola is also found in people who are responsible for taking care of Ebola infected patients for eg the hospital staff or close relatives, thus such patients should be best transferred to Isolation units.
- People who bury dead infected with Ebola Virus are also at threat of contracting Ebola and have shown the disease symptoms in many cases.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE:
The Ebola Virus Disease with its fatality threats has symptoms that can be masked initially as any other commonly occurring infectious disease. Initially symptoms occur abruptly within 2-10 days of contracting the Ebola Virus. The initial symptoms are:
- High grade fever with or without chills
- Severe Headache
- Muscular Cramps
- Muscle Pain
- Joint Pains
- Generalized weakness
As the disease progresses, patient may experience other strong symptoms like:
- Stomach aches
- Diarrhea accompanied with bleeding
- Chest pain and cough
- Chest congestion
- Rashes over the skin
- Redness of eyes caused due to hemorrhage of blood vessels in the eyes
- External Bleeding through eyes, ears, nose and mouth in very severe patients
- Bruising of skin accompanied by bleeding
- Internal bleeding which can remain unidentified and cause severe cases of iron deficiency anemia
- Severe weight loss over the course of disease
No particular treatment has yet been established for the Ebola Virus Disease yet, but the only treatment patient receives is palliative care and symptomatic treatment for the symptoms. The
Biggest challenge in the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease is the drop in the number of cells that allow the blood to clot (platelets). As a result, hemorrhages occur internally as well as externally, and thus patient usually dies of extreme blood loss.
Although the survival rate is low, patients who get cured from Ebola Virus Disease generally develop antibodies in their blood for 5-10 years.