Ebola Essay Research Paper March 1 1996

Ebola Essay, Research Paper

March 1, 1996 EBOLA Imagine going on vacation to a foreign country and

when youcome home y ou are horribly sick. Your head hurts, you have a highfever, and you start

vomiting. Chances are that you may havecontracted the Ebola virus. Ebola was first

discovered in the village of Yambuku(1) nearthe Ebola River in Zaire. Since its discove ry, there

have beenfour outbreaks of this disease. There are three known strains, ofvariations of ebola.

There is no known cure for this disease(2).Ebola has become one of the most mysterious and

feared viruses onthe face of this earth. Ebola’s first documented appearance was in Zaire in

1976. Noone knows where ebola comes from or what the original host is.However, sc ientists know

that man is not ebola’s natural host(3).The host was first suspected of being carried by monkeys

in theAfrican r ain forests(4), but in one case the monkeys at a holdingfacility broke out and had to

be killed. In the pursuit of a cure and an origin, there have beenseveral teams of scientists

whose top priority is to find theviruses origin(5). The teams have trekked through the rainforests

of Africa to collecting different species of animals,bugs, and plant life. Bugs are also coll ected

from the hospitalsand from the surrounding huts of the villages. So far 36,000specimens have

been collected. Once they have been gathered, thespecimens are put into liquid nitrogen and

flown back to theUnited States, where they are studied at t he Centers for DiseaseControl in

Atlanta Georgia and the Army Medical Research Instituteof Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick

Md.,(6). Researchers havediscovered the source of human infection for all level fourorganisms

except ebola(7). This means that all organisns thatcause deadly viruses have been contained and

studied, and have hadantibodies created to ward of the illn esses that are caused. Although

Ebola is a mystery to humans, the virus isrelatively hard to catch and it kills quickly, l essening

thechance victims will infect others. It is transmitted by contactwith bodily fluids like blood, vomit

and semen or contaminatedsyringes and is not known to be passed along through

casualcontact(8). When the first outbreak of ebola occur red, it was in 1976 inZaire and in

Sudan at the same time. There were 318 casesreported in Zaire and 240 of those cases prove d

to be fatal. InSudan, there were 284 cases and 134 of those cases proved to befatal. In 1979,

there was another small epidemic in the sameregion of Sudan. In 1989 there was a breakout in

Reston Virginia,at a monkey holding facility, that killed ov er 400 monkeys thathad been shipped

from the Phillines. This strand however, is onlylethal to monkeys and id not a threat to

humans(9). In 1995, therewas an outbreak in Kikwit Zaire that claimed 233 lives. At least7 people

survived that outbreak becauses of a new breakthroughthat is a possible solution to the loss of

lives that are sufferedin a outbreak. Blood from one sur viving patient can be transfusedto a

person of the same blood type to possibly save the personslife. Such was the case in 199 5(10).

Scientists were able tofind who the first person to contract the virus was in 1995. Theman’s name

was Gaspard Menga. Menga infected his family, and hisfamily infected others(11). Menga is

known as the index patient.The reason it is so import ant to have the index patient is thatthis way

they can trace the patients movements and try to find theorigin of the virus. S cientists are now

arguing that if therewasn’t so much interference with the rain forests that therewouldn’t be new

diseases emerging all the time(12) The most recent outbreak happened in January of 1996 in

asmall village in inland Zaire. Two child ren were playing when thecame upon a dead chimpanzee

and they took it back to the villagewhere the villagers celebrated for th e finding of such a

wonderfulthing. The reason this was so celebrated was because meat is rarein that village.

Anyone who helped clean or cook the animalbecame ill with the deadly ebola virus. The final

death count was16 people. Villagers have been warned not to eat any animals thatthey find

already dead and to be careful not to eat any sickanimals that they may encounter . Scientists

now believe that monkeys are not the original hostbecause they seem to just as susceptible to the

disease as humans.Scientists are hoping that they will make some substantialdiscoveries with this

outbreak.(13) Scientists do know t hat ebola is a strand of sevenproteins(14) that belongs to a

family of viruses calledfilovirusus. The virus consists of a she ll of proteinssurrounding genetic

material. The virus attaches itself to a hostcell, and changes the chemicals makeup to fit its own

so that itcan reproduce(15). Ebola is a hemorrhagic virus that has a short incubationperiod of

about two days to two weeks(16). It causes high fever,chills, internal and external bleeding,

vomiting, the eyes turnred and the skin becomes b lotchy and bruises appear. The surfaceveins

and arteries erode. Organs liquify and blood flows fromevery opening in the body including the

eyes and ears(17). Thisis followed by a painful death that usually occurs within threeweeks(18).

There are three known strains of The virus. Ebola Zaire,ebola Sudan, and ebola Reston. Ebola

Zaire is the most lethal ofthe three fo llowed by ebola Sudan and then ebola Reston. EbolaReston

is the least worried about because it has not proved to behostile to humans. The question of

whether or not this virus could becomeairborne has struck fear in many. Scientists say that it

isunlikely that it will become airborne, because it is killed byultraviolet rays within seconds. The

only way that it couldsu rvive is if it mutated to become resistant to ultraviolet rays. At this point,

a person is more likely to contract HIV thanit is to contract the ebola virus, although it takes ten

years toaffect a person the way ebola does in ten days. Even tho ugh ebola is a very

mysterious and feared disease, itis in the process of becoming more understood. It can destroy

anentire c ity in a matter of weeks, and could wipe out an entirenation if it ever became airborne,

but it is a very difficultdisease to contract so the united states is probably safe from anynear

future epidemics. On the other hand many third worldcountries cou ld have serious problems if

there is an outbreak dueto unsanitaryliving and medical conditions. The hospitals and

medicalper sonnel reuse needles that have been infected and they don’t uselatex or any other kind

of gloves which can be a cause of wides pread sickness. Everyone hopes that diseases like ebola

will notget out of control before a cure can be found. Such hopes see munreasonable due to the

facilities available in some areas of theworld. lable in some areas of theworld.


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