Ebola Virus What Is Ebola Virus Diseases Symptoms Treatment Prevention

New Delhi: The health authorities of Uganda, on Tuesday, confirmed an Ebola virus outbreak after testing samples from a 24-year-old male in the Mubende District, Central Region of Uganda who later succumbed to the disease. Earlier this month, the National Rapid Response team investigated six other suspicious deaths that occurred in the same district and eight suspected cases in a health facility for treatment. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this is a rare Sudan Ebola virus, the last outbreak was reported in 2012. 

What is Ebola Virus?

According to the WHO, the ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. The fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be natural hosts of the virus. The Ebola virus belongs to a family of Filovirida virus, within which six species have been identified — Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Taï Forest, Reston and Bombal.

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Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Transmission 

The blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, porcupines etc. found ill or dead in the rainforest is likely to introduce the virus to humans. Similarly, human-to-human contact is likely to spread from the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. Objects contaminated with body fluids (like blood, faeces, vomit) from an infected person or those deceased from the virus can spread the EVD. 

Pregnant women who have recovered from acute EVD may still carry the virus in breastmilk, and other pregnancy-related fluids and tissues posing a risk to their baby as well. However, those who become pregnant after surviving Ebola are not at risk of carrying the virus. 

People remain infectious as long as their blood contains the virus. 

Symptoms of EVD

The symptoms may appear anywhere between 2 to 21 days and they can be sudden. A person cannot spread the virus until they develop symptoms. Initially, symptoms appear as — fever, fatigue, sore throat, muscle pain, and headache. Followed by more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and impaired kidney or liver functions. In certain cases, patients may have both internal and external bleeding such as oozing from the gums, low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

Treatment and Vaccine

WHO reported, that two monoclonal antibodies (Inmazeb and Ebanga) were approved for the treatment of Zaire ebolavirus (Ebolavirus) infection in adults and children by the US Food and Drug Administration in late 2020. Aside from this, supportive care such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms are used. Currently, blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are being evaluated.

Prevention of Ebola Virus Disease

To avoid large outbreaks, several steps need to be taken. Those handling patients need to follow a procedure including in laboratories, surveillance and contact tracing are a must along with safe burials. Other prevention tips from WHO include:

  • Animal products (meat) should be cooked thoroughly before consumption. Raw meat should not be consumed. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing.
  • While caring for an infected patient, gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn when taking care. Direct contact with an infected person and bodily fluid must be avoided. Hand washing after caring for a patient or visiting a hospital is advised.
  • Monitoring health for Ebola-related symptoms should be done by a person who has had contact with an infected person for at least 21 days. 
  • A risk for transmission through sex is possible, WHO recommends that male survivors of EVD practice safer sex and hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen tests negative twice for Ebola virus. 
  • Before breastfeeding, survivors of acute Ebola virus should get their breastmilk test for the virus. Pregnant women should be encouraged to attend frequent antenatal care (ANC) visits, to handle any pregnancy complications. 



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