Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (ebola) Essay, Research Paper
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
How would you like it if you died? Well
that?s what?s happening to people in Africa.
Their families die around them, spreading the
deadly disease further into the ecosystem.
Killing at will, this potent filovirus sweeps
through villages with reckless abandon,
destroying anything and everything in it?s way,
and then just as mysteriously as it came, it
disappears without a trace. Even with our
modern technologies, we still don?t really know
too much about this death sentence disguised as
a virus. In the following, I will do my best to
teach you about Ebola, its cousins, where it?s
from, possible cures, effects, and so on. If we
want to, we can find a cure. We control our
destiny, and it?s up to us to find an anecdote
to this killing machine.
The Ebola virus is a highly contagious
filovirus that can be transmitted by re-use of
unsterilized syringes, needles, and directly
transferring it by contact of bodily fluids that
contain high levels, or ?bricks? of virus.
Aerosol transmission cannot be counted out, but
water vapor containing secretions of Ebola are
known to spread the infection. Seeing that
Ebola can be spread in numerous ways, including
being spread from animal to human, and
visa-versa, monkey handlers who work with Ebola
ridden monkeys have broken out with the infamous
hemorragic fever. The animal-to-human spread of
the virus has also killed off African tribes
that eat animals with high titers of the deadly
Ebola is an infectious disease of many faces.
It has strains, such as Mayinga, or Cardinal,
which are mainly named after people, or places
that they are discovered in. Strains are
slightly different versions of a certain virus.
Ebola?s three types that are known are: Ebola
Zaire, Ebola Sudan, and Ebola Reston. Ebola
Zaire was first discovered in 1976 in Zaire. It
is the deadliest disease of all of the Ebola
strains with a 9 out of 10 kill rate (see fig.
1-1). Ebola Sudan kills over 1/2 of the people
it comes in contact with. It was discovered in
1976 also. Ebola Reston was named after Reston,
Virginia, which had a shipment of cynomolgus
macaques, a type of monkey, infect a whole
monkey house with Ebola. Ebola Reston has
never killed anyone, but it killed 80% of the
monkeys that it devastated.
Ebola also has a very close cousin, Marburg.
Under an electron microscope, they are clearly
filoviradae. Filoviruses are characterized by
their notorious for their nucleotide with
strands, or ?tails?, which make it look like a
?cheerio with a tail?. Marburg, which
obliterates one in four of its victims, was
named after a city in Germany. Marburg, Germany
received a shipment of Marburg monkeys from
Uganda that infected 31 people, killing 7 of
them. In later years five more people broke out
with the dire Marburg virus, destroying all but
one of them. Marburg and Ebola both have to be
identified under an electron microscope.
Marburg was discovered before Ebola (see fig.
1-2), so when Ebola Zaire swept through Africa
in 1976, it was mistaken as milder version,
Ebola has been traced to Africa, where the
majority of cases occur, and the Philippines, in
which monkeys had been found with Ebola Reston.
Most of our knowledge of Ebola came in 1976,
when the biggest outbreak occurred. It stormed
through Zaire wiping out complete villages. In
all 550 cases were reported with 430 fatalities
When USAMRIID led an investigation to find
where Ebola was found in nature, they traced it
to Kitum Cave, in Zaire. As Colonel Gene
Johnson said, ?I?m completely sure we have
finally found the true hiding place of Ebola.?
After extensive testing of nearly 10,000 animals
and insects, they found no trace of Ebola.
Other expeditions followed, with the same
disappointments as the Kitum Cave search.
Ebola and other filoviruses kill people by
decomposing the body before it does away with
its victims. Usually their organs liquefy
before they ?crash? in a gruesome instance in
which blood and liquefied tissue spew from every
orifice in the body. The virus is composed of a
nucleus, and strands of RNA, for replication.
It makes its living by taking over cells and
bursting them creating an amplified amount of
virus. In some deaths, the virus disfigures the
corpse so badly that it is not recognizably
human. Once you get Ebola chances of survival
With all that Ebola can do, we still haven?t
found a certain cure. Radiation therapy had
been used with little effects on the virus
itself, it slowed the replication by destroying
RNA, but there was too much of the virus to kill
and it was unproved that it worked, seeing as it
was tested on only a few people. In all the
cases of people were too weak and died from the
radiation therapy. Also tried was survivors?
plasma. When enough was used, it reduced the
death rate up to 30% but it also is not a
definite cure for Ebola, or its subtypes. To
the best of our knowledge, there still is no
cure for the dreaded disease.
All mammals can contact Ebola, and spread it
to other mammals, insects and reptiles have been
found to contract Ebola through extensive
testing in the CDC located in Atlanta, Georgia.
The main animal that gets the virus seems to be
monkeys, but since there has never been a case
of Ebola found in nature, this has never been
confirmed, but it cannot be discounted.
Ebola seems to travel fast in a chain
reaction that is similar to an ant trap. The
only difference is the person contacts it and
spreads it to other people, not an ant, killing
almost everyone, and then it ?hibernates?. We
think that Ebola kills so fast that it doesn?t
have a chance to represent itself in other
victims. In a way, Ebola is the only reason it
doesn?t spread around the world on a fatal
rampage. It seems to kill itself by killing us.
Another reason is the fact that we set up tight
customs wherever an outbreak occurs. The 1976
outbreak had the potential to wipe out the whole
world, but anyone from the area was isolated for
18 days before traveling to a different country.
An unpredictable virus, Ebola destroys
hundreds and disappears. Since no one knows a
cure for it, it is extremely hard to contain,
and even when it?s ?contained?, it kills at
another place without warning. One of the main
contributors to the outbreaks have been its
symptoms, which are similar to the common flu
and malaria in the beginning. Filoviruses are
diagnosed by their symptoms. It is especially
hard to diagnose a single case of Hemmorragic
Fever, but when a cluster of cases occur, it is
usually diagnosed correctly. Symptoms of
Hemorragic Fever include diarrhea, bruises,
rashes of blood spots known as a maculopopular
rash, black vomit (which is dead tissue and
blood produced from Ebola), glassy eyes, weight
loss, other bacterial infections, headache, and
even hiccups. These symptoms are almost
identical to malaria, Lassa, Rift Valley Fever,
yellow fever, and the common influenza. These
symptoms make it all the more difficult to
diagnose a case of Ebola.
When working with a patient or corpse that
has Ebola, personnel are required to take all
the precautions of a level four hot zone (the
highest level). These include a ?space suit?
with a battery powered respirator, five pairs of
gloves, no sharp objects that aren?t required
for the procedure, and a chemical shower. These
precautions basically eliminate the chance of
personnel working with Ebola to contact it.
To detect Ebola in an autopsy-perhaps-one
could do a number of things, they could: use
ultraviolet rays to detect Ebola in smears of
tissue, cell cultures, isolation in animals,
immunohistochemistry on a fixed tissues (using a
regular microscope to detect small differences
in microscopic objects, such as a virus), and
the use of an electron microscope.
Ebola contains the same amino acids as in the
body. Among these proteins is SGP which is
thought to be what links Ebola to humans. Ebola
truly is an RNA virus which spreads through
proteins secreted in the viruses themselves.
With this information we may be on the verge of
genetically morphing the virus to be virtually
harmless. RNA, which copies the virus, would
not be able to produce, so the progression of
the virus would be impossible. By doing this we
would beat the virus at its own game of virion
morphology (the process in which the virus
drastically changes to take on completely new
characteristics), which is what makes it so
Now that you know the bare facts of the Ebola
virus, don?t you think it?s kind of remarkable?
Not in a good way, of course, but in the way
that it is able to scare you senseless. Would
you like to die from a Viral Hemorragic Fever, I
didn?t think so. So in order to stop it, we
have to work together to find a cure.