Ebola virus causes a disease called Ebola fever or Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The disease caused by the virus kills 9 out of 10 people infected by it. The disease is highly fatal as it results in bleeding. The reason for bleeding is the reduction in blood’s platelets count. Platelets are the blood cells responsible for clotting. In addition to the fall of cells which clot blood, the disease also causes significant harm to body’s ability to fight infections and a number of other organs in the body.
How Do You Get Ebola?
Ebola virus does not spread through air like other common viruses which can get transmitted through food and water as well. Such viruses include measles, common cold or flu and influenza. In order to get infected by the virus a person has to come into physical contact with the body fluids of a person or animal who is suffering from the disease. Animals through which the disease can get transmitted to a human include fruit bats, monkeys or chimpanzees. Physical contact with the skin of a person or animal suffering from the disease can also result in the spreading of the virus. One can also get infected by the disease if he handles the needles or surfaces infected with the virus by his bare hands.
However, a person who does not show any symptoms of the disease even though infected by it cannot spread the virus to other people.
What Are Ebola Symptoms?
The symptoms of Ebola virus can appear from anywhere between 2 to 21 days. However, in most cases the symptoms start to become visible in between 8 to 10 days after a person has become infected by the Ebola virus. Following are the symptoms which appear when a person is suffering from an Ebola virus infection:
- Headache which is relentless and acute
- Fever more than 101.5oF or 38.6oC
- Feeling tired and lacking in strength
- Aching in the muscles
- Not feeling hungry
- Frequent loose stools, diarrhea
- Pain in the stomach
- Feeling cold
- Pain in the joints
- Pain in chest and coughing
- The color of eyes becomes red
- A lot of loss in weight
- Rashes on the skin which are lifted from it
- Blood spills internally
- Loss of blood from eyes and injuries. Bleeding also occurs from nose, ears and rectum. This usually happens when a person is very close dying.
Most of the people who get an Ebola virus infection die because of it. Very few survive the infection, but medical science has not yet found a reason to explain this phenomenon. Most people die of the disease because body’s immune system is not able to evolve a counter to the virus.
If the virus gets recognized as soon as you contract the infection and medication is started promptly, then the possibility of recovering from the disease are better than late detection and treatment. This is the reason you must contact your physician if you have any of the above symptoms and have traveled to Africa or know someone who has.
What Are the Complications of Ebola?
Ebola virus is fatal in most cases and the following serious conditions appear once the disease advances in the body:
- A number of organs in the body fail
- Critical amount of blood is lost from the body
- State of mind gets disturbed and the person feels ecstatic and excited
- Sudden shaking and vibrations in the body
- Onset of coma
The following picture from center for disease and control shows more clearly the path of ebola infection and the symptoms along the way:
For Those Who Survived
A few people are known to have survived the disease for which medical science has no explanation at the moment. However, this much is known that the virus is so dangerous and fatal because it weakens the immune system of the body. Those who are able to fight off the infection, recuperate at very low speed. The virus remains in the body for a long time even after they survive the infection and the body takes a number of months before regaining its lost strength and weight. Those who survive face following complications because of the infection:
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Loss of hair
- Pain in the head
- Inflammation and swelling of the eyes and the testicles
- Changes in their sensory perceptions
How to Diagnose Ebola
A number of tests in the laboratory can confirm a diagnosis of Ebola. However a number of diseases must be dismissed before making a diagnosis of Ebola Virus. These diseases include other hemorrhagic fevers caused by viral infections, hepatitis, relapsing fever, plague, cholera, malaria, shigellosis, typhoid fever, leptospirosis, rickettsiosis and meningitis. The following are the tests which can confirm the identification of the virus in the lab:
- Test to detect antigen
- Test for serum neutralization
- Cell culture to isolate Ebola virus
- Test for ELISA (Enzyme linked Immunosorbent Assay) through anti-body capture.
- RT-PCR assay which is Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction.
- Electron microscopy
A lot of care should be taken while collecting samples from the patient’s body for diagnosing Ebola Virus. Maximum biological precautions should be taken to ensure that the virus does not get transmitted to the care providers.
How to Treat Ebola
Till now, no cure medicine has been found out by medical science to treat patient suffering from the Ebola Virus disease. However, a lot of doctors and researchers are continuously working to find out medication to treat the virus. One of the experimental methods on which examination is being carried out is a serum that eliminates cells infected by Ebola virus. However, in order to provide some respite to the patient from the infection’s conditions, physicians provide the following treatment:
- Medicines to keep blood pressure of the patient normal
- Inject electrolytes and fluids into the patient’s body
- Provide oxygen to the patient
- Transfuse blood in the patient’s body
- Provide medicine to cure other infections caused because of weakening of the immune system.