By Monica Soila
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a human disease caused by the Ebola virus Symptoms, usually start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus; with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then normally nausea vomiting and diarrhea, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point some people begin to have problems with bleeding.
The disease is usually acquired when a person comes into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal such as a monkey or fruit bat. Fruit bats are believed to carry and spread the virus without being affected by it. Once infection of a human occurs, the disease may be spread from one person to another. Men who survive may be able to transmit the disease sexually for nearly two months. To make the diagnosis, other diseases with similar symptoms such as malaria, cholera and other viral hemorrhagic fever are first excluded. The blood may then be tested for antibodies to the virus, or the viral RNA, or the virus itself, to confirm the diagnosis.
Prevention includes decreasing the spread of the disease from infected monkeys and pigs to humans. This may be done by checking these types of animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may also be helpful, as is wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around a person who has the disease. Samples of bodily fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution.
There is no single treatment for the virus. Efforts to help persons who are infected include giving them either oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids. The disease has a high death rate: often between 50% and 90% of those who are infected with the virus. It typically occurs in outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1976, when it was first identified, and 2014, fewer than 1,000 people a year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. So far it has killed more than 672 people in the Western Africa region.
The disease was first identified in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Efforts are ongoing to develop a vaccine; however, none exists as of 2014.