Ebola Essay, Research Paper
Ebola Virus or Ebola Hemorhagic Fever is one of the most deadly viruses known to mankind. The strength and amount of time it lasts varies with different strains, but Ebola kills50 to 90% of the people it infects. As of July 1, 1995, 573 deaths have been reported dueto the disease. It was first identified in 1975 in Zaire, when a small village was almostentirely whipped out and 340 people ended up dead. Ebola is a member of a group of RNAviruses called Filoviruses. There are three known strains of it; Zaire, Reston, Sudan, andTai. Reston is a disease that effects monkeys, not humans, while Tai is found inChimpanzees, and although humans can catch it, it is very hard for us to contract it. Thestrains Zaire and Sudan are the ones that are harmful to humans, and there is no knowneffective treatment for it. The other disturbing fact about this disease is that the carrier ofthe Zaire or Sudan strains are not known. Ebola is spread through close bodily contact or transfer of fluids or blood. Often, inthe past family members or nurses and doctors who were caring for those who had thevirus were infected. The carrier of the disease is not known and although the organismswho are infected with, and pass on the Reston and Tai strains, no organisms that could becarriers of this virus have been discovered. However, over 3,00 birds and animals havebeen tested for Ebola, along with almost 10,000 insects, none of which have had the virus. They are still testing for organisms that have the disease, so someday the carrier may bediscovered. Once Ebola is inside of a cell, it transcribes it s RNA, and replicates in thecytoplasm of the cell. The host cell then splits open and releases many more viruses intothe organism. The fear of many people is that someone infected with Ebola would travelsomewhere and spread the disease to a world wide level. The fast time Symptoms begin 4-16 days after the virus has been contracted, and start out mildlike a fever and then get very severe. The first symptoms include weakness, muscle pain,fever, and headache. Then, as the disease gets more severe, symptoms such as vomiting,diarrhea, internal and external bleeding, and limited kidney and liver functions. approximately 75% of the people infected with Ebola have died, so the odds are that if oneis infected, they will die. Someone with Ebola would probably die within eight to 16 days, and if they don t thechances are that the virus has left and they will live. Stopping the spread of it once anoutbreak is discovered should be our prime concern. In third world countries in Africawhere the virus has spread before, medical techniques are very bad, and this enables thevirus to spread very easily among people who are trying to help the infected person. Thereare some possibilities of treatments, but none have actually been tested on humans. Some proposed treatments and vaccines have been tested on animals, and ideashave come up for things that might work, but nothing has actually seemed to work onhumans. If people were able to understand the virus, it would be much easier to look forcures. Ebola has a high mutation rate, so often samples of the virus relatively closetogether are very different. However, the strains do stay relatively constant, so it is possiblethat Ebola has existed for a long time. One possibility that has arisen is steroids. A manwho had the virus, and it was not identified as Ebola was given steroids, and seemed to
recover very well, and lived. Russian scientists have successfully produced Ebola immunegoats and sheep using an antibody called imunoglobuin G, that was used with a process ofgiving them dead Zaire Ebola virus, then giving them the live virus, and when the have thevirus, bleeding them out for antiserum. This process is very expensive, and has not beentested on humans, so it is not likely that a vaccine for Ebola will be produced in the nearfuture. Many antibodies have been used to treat the symptoms of Ebola, and maybe helppeople fight through the infection, but none have been discovered that work exceptionallywell. A possible homeopathic remedy has been proposed which has been used toeffectively treat other viruses with similar symptoms. It is Crotalus Horridus, or TimberRattler venom. Although scientists have been studying Ebola for over 20 years, they stillknow relatively little about it, and have no cure. Most of the outbreaks of Ebola have been in Africa although a few have beenuncovered elsewhere. Since the discovery of Ebola in1975, there have been five majoroutbreaks where over 50 people have been infected. Many people in the US ask thequestion: will it ever get here? The answer is that it already has; but only the Reston strainwhich only infects monkeys. The scary part about these five or so outbreaks in the US isthat one of them was found in a population of monkeys that was not just brought in fromoverseas and had no contact with monkeys from far away. Scientists have done muchresearch on this strand, and have concluded that it is possible for it to become airborne,and the other strands may be able to become airborne too. The only place where EbolaZaire or Sudan is known to have been contracted from that was not from the continent ofAfrica is Sweden. There have been two confirmed cases of the disease there, and theresidents of one town recall that there had been several more cases like this one before. However, in this area the disease has not spread between people nearly as much as it hasin Africa in the past. There are 573 deaths that are known to have been caused by Ebola,and almost 700 confirmed cases of it. This does not mean that this is all the cases by anymeans, because before 1975 the virus probably existed, and probably there have beenmany other cases like the many in Africa where one or just a few people are infected. TheReston and Tai strains have been uncovered in Asia, Africa, North America, SouthAmerica, and Europe. Reston seems to spread more quickly because the monkeys haveno real way to protect themselves from it. Scientifically, the Ebola virus has only been around since 1975, but the odds are thatit has been around for much longer than that. Scientists believe that Ebola probably has avery small niche in which it lives with it s carriers, and therefore is only passed on to otherorganisms rarely. Some historians believe that Ebola or a similar filovirus may have beenwhat was behind the Plague of Athens that killed 300,000 people in 425- 430 BC. Thesymptoms of this disease written down by several different people from that time are verysimilar to those experienced by those with Ebola. Tribal stories in Africa and stories ofbefore 1975 tell of a virus that fits the description of Ebola, however, in the last 100 years orso, no large outbreaks of an Ebola like disease were recalled. The most recent outbreakwas in Gabon in February 1996, and it killed 13. There is no cure for Ebola, so untilsomeone discovers the carrier of this deadly virus, we will have to just watch out and try tocontain any outbreaks that take place.