Early 2014 saw an outbreak of Ebola is some of the African nations. The result was all panic and death. So much was the fear that people even in the other end of the world panicked. So, what is this Ebola and why is it such a feared disease? Let us find out through this article title 30 interesting Ebola facts.
Interesting Ebola Facts: 1-10
1. Ebola is the name used for describing Ebola Virus Disease or EVD. Previously it was known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.
2. The term ‘hemorrhagic’ refers to bleeding. There are other types of hemorrhagic fever such is Dengue fever, Lassa fever, Yellow fever and Marburg fever. These types of fevers which are associated with bleeding and are caused by viruses are known as viral hemorrhagic fevers or VHF.
3. Ebola is caused by one of 5 different species of Ebola virus. These 5 species belong to the family Filoviridae and genus ebolavirus.
4. The 5 different types of Ebola virus species are:
- Ebola virus or Zaire ebolavirus – capable of infecting humans.
- Sudan virus or Sudan ebolavirus – capable of infecting humans.
- Taï Forest virus or Taï Forest ebolavirus (was previously known as Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus) – capable of infecting humans.
- Bundibugyo virus or Budnibugyo ebolavirus – capable of infecting humans.
- Reston virus or Reston ebolavirus – so far known for affecting only non-human primates.
5. So far Ebola viruses have only been found in some African countries.
6. The first ever recorded outbreak of these viruses was in 1976 close to a river named Ebola. The river is now a part of Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ever since its first outbreak in 1976, several other EVD outbreaks have been recorded with 2014 marking one of the worst outbreaks on records.
7. According to researchers, EVD is not spread through food, water or air.
8. Scientists believe that these viruses are borne by animals and they blame bats as the most likely natural reservoir for Ebola virus.
9. Scientists have actually found that 4 out of the 5 species of virus are found in animal hosts that are African natives.
10. Experts cannot say for sure exactly how Ebola virus manages to enter human body. They just suspect that humans get infected when they come in contact with an infected animal like a non-human primate or a fruit bat.
Interesting Ebola Facts: 11 – 20
11. As far as transmission of the virus in humans in concerned, there are several modes. One of them is direct contact with bodily fluids of an Ebola infected person. Bodily fluids can include breast milk, vomit, semen, urine, saliva, feces, blood etc.
12. The virus can also be transmitted through infected syringes and needles that came in contact with the blood of infected person.
13. It can also be transmitted through semen to someone engaged in oral (such as cunnilingus and fellatio), anal or vaginal sex with a person who has just recovered from Ebola. This happens because even after a person recovers completely from EVD, the Ebola virus is found to stay in semen for a period of up to 3 months.
14. Direct contact with infected primates like monkeys and apes and even direct contact with fruit bats can lead to transmission of this virus.
Did you know fruit bats are considered delicacy in Africa? This is possibly one of the primary reasons why Ebola is transmitted into humans.
15. Mosquitoes cannot be blamed for spread of this virus because so far, scientists have found no evidence of mosquitoes or even other insects transmitting the virus into humans.
16. EVD becomes contagious only after the symptoms of the the disease appear. Symptoms may appear just in 2 days or it may take up to 21 days for the symptoms to show up. Generally it happens within 8 to 10 days.
17. Some of the symptoms of EVD include unexplained bruising and bleeding, high fever, stomach pain, severe headache, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, weakness and muscle pain.
18. Internal bleeding, red eyes, rash, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty swallowing or breathing are also other symptoms of EVD.
19. There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola virus. As far as treatment is concerned, only supportive therapy is available which includes balancing bodily fluids, maintaining blood pressure, maintaining body’s oxygen levels and treatments for other complicating diseases.
20. For diagnosing EVD, the only method of confirming Ebola virus is blood test. Equipment required for diagnosing Ebola virus strains are high specialized.
Interesting Ebola Facts: 21 -30
21. EVD is extremely dangerous and has a fatality rate of 60%. An infected person can die within 6 days after showing symptoms.
22. The Ebola virus is known to first affect the dendritic cells. These cells are our first line of defense and in case of a foreign encounter, these cells activate the T lymphocytes or the white blood cells in our body. The white blood cells in turn destroy the infected virus infected cells so that the virus fails to replicate.
23. The Ebola virus however infect the dendritic cells first and render them defective. Because of this the dendritic cells fail to inform the T lymphocytes and the T cells simply don’t respond the the infection.
24. Because the T cells fail to get activated, the antibodies that depend on their activation also fail to fight the Ebola virus thus, giving away a clear path to the deadly virus and it starts replicating quickly.
25. Once inside the body, the virus travels through blood to different parts of the body. Macrophages – a type of immune cells in our body then eat up these virus strains and get infected. These infected cells then releases a type of protein that leads to coagulation by forming small blood clots that prevent a proper and steady supply of blood to different organs.
26. Apart from clotting proteins, the infected macrophages also release other types of proteins along with nitric oxide that are responsible for damaging the linings of the blood vessels. As this happens, the blood vessels start leaking, leading to external hemorrhage such as nose and eyes bleeding.
27. Once the Ebola virus manages to reach liver, things get really nasty. The virus simply destroys those cells that are responsible for producing proteins which are known for coagulating the blood during external bleeding.
28. Cells in gastrointestinal tracts also get infected and damaged and this leads to diarrhea followed by dehydration.
29. The virus also travels to adrenal glands and damages cells that control blood pressure by producing special types of steroids. This leads to complete collapse of circulatory system and organs of the body start starving.
30. The results are pretty clear. Hemorrhage leads to blood loss and sharp decline in blood pressure. This puts the patients through a state shock and results in failure of several organs. Eventually they succumb to the deadly virus.
Did you know that all Ebola outbreaks have so far been restricted only to Africa?
The African countries that saw Ebola outbreaks include:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South Sudan
- Ivory Coast
- Republic of the Congo
- South Africa (the outbreak was actually imported)
Bonus Fact: People who manage to recover from this deadly disease end up developing antibodies which last for 10 years, making them virtually immune to the virus for at least a decade. However, scientists are not sure whether they become immune for the rest or their lives and to all 4 out of 5 know species of the virus that cause infections in humans.
1976: Outbreak in Zaire (currently Democratic Republic of the Congo). 318 reported cases of which 280 were confirmed dead.
1976: Sudan outbreak with 151 confirmed deaths out of 284 reported cases.
1995: Another outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo. 315 reported cases with 250 confirmed deaths (possibly more were dead).
2000-2001: Outbreak in Uganda with 425 reported cases, leaving behind 224 casualties.
2001-2002: Outbreak in Gabon and Republic of the Congo border. 43 dead on side of Republic of the Congo and 53 on Gabon side.
2002 (December) – 2003 (April): Outbreak in Republic of Congo. 128 casualties out of 143 reported cases.
Early 2007: Yet another outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo. 264 case reported. 187 reported dead.
Late 2007: Uganda outbreak with 149 reported cases and 37 confirmed deaths.
2014: Outbreak in West Africa with following figures:
::::::::::::::::: Senegal: 1 reported case and 0 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Mali: 8 reported cases and 6 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Nigeria: 20 reported cases and 8 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Democratic Republic of the Congo: 66 reported cases and 49 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Guinea: 3,652 reported cases and 2,429 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Liberia: 10,666 reported cases and 4,806 casualties.
::::::::::::::::: Sierra Leone: 12,827 reported cases and 3,912 casualties.