News of this deadly virus has hit the airwaves and are not about to go away. the scaremongering machine has been put in motion but should you be afraid? Here’s some background information about Ebola, a virus with a high fatality rate that was first identified in Africa in 1976.
Facts: Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans.
The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976, one in northern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Central Africa: and the other, in southern Sudan (now South Sudan). The virus is named after the Ebola River, where the virus was first recognized in 1976, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.
While the exact reservoir of Ebola viruses is still unknown, researchers believe the most likely natural hosts are fruit bats.
Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).
Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days. Unprotected health care workers are susceptible to infection because of their close contact with patients during treatment.
Deadly human Ebola outbreaks have been confirmed in the following countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea and Liberia.
According to the World Health Organization, “there is no specific treatment or vaccine,” and the fatality rate can be up to 90%. Patients are given supportive care, which includes providing fluids and electrolytes and food.
Fluids and electrolytes
There are five subspecies of the Ebola virus: Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV) and Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)
Statistics: There have been more than 3,000 reported cases and more than 1,600 deaths since the discovery of Ebola.
Timeline: *Includes outbreaks resulting in more than 100 deaths or special cases.
1976 – First recognition of the EBOV disease is in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). The outbreak has 318 reported human cases, leading to 280 deaths. An SUDV outbreak also occurs in Sudan (now South Sudan), which incurs 284 cases and 151 deaths.
1989 – In Reston, Virginia, macaque monkeys imported from the Philippines are found to be infected with the Ebola virus (later named the Ebola-Reston virus).
1990 – In Texas and Virginia quarantine facilities, four humans develop Ebola antibodies after contact with monkeys imported from the Philippines. None of the humans has symptoms.
1995 – An outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) leads to 315 reported cases and at least 250 deaths.
2001-2002 – An EBOV outbreak occurs on the border of Gabon and Republic of the Congo (ROC), which results in 53 deaths on the Gabon side and at least 43 deaths on the Republic of the Congo side.
2007 – An EBOV outbreak occurs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 187 of the 264 cases reported result in death. In late 2007, an outbreak in Uganda leads to 37 deaths. 149 cases were reported.
March 2014-present – Outbreak in Guinea and Liberia. There are at least 208 confirmed or suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, resulting in 136 deaths there, and in Liberia, there are 34 suspected or confirmed cases, resulting in six deaths.