Ebola Cause And Effect Essay

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The Impact of the Ebola Virus on Africa Essay example

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The outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa, a strain never seen in the region, is scary indeed. To hear about medical professionals, who are supposed to know more about Ebola than anyone else, fall helplessly in the line of duty is very frightening. Ebola is another of Africa’s brand-killers. And it seems to take the shine away from the story of a continent that has been rising unprecedentedly in a post-financial crisis era - where economic growth is in short supply. Even the historic US-Africa Summit and its outcome were overshadowed by the world-wide panic over the viral contagion. Two African Heads of States of the affected countries even declined an opportunity to take pictures with the first American President of African blood—…show more content…

The cost to Africa as whole is high, and disproportionate on the affected economies. While it is difficult to put an exact estimate, the extent of damages to countries would depend in part on the duration of spread of the disease. Early projection from the World Bank has already revised the growth forecast for Guinea by 1 percentage point ($62million), almost half of what the government spends on health care a year. The Liberian Finance Minister has also revised downward the IMF country growth forecast of 5.9%[1].

The panic and confusion could be more disruptive than the disease itself. While one cannot put money value to life, the true economic costs of pandemics are usually way off the mortality figures. For example, the outbreak of a relatively rare disease like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with 8,273 cases as of 2003, caused just over 800 deaths[2]. But in terms of damage to the global economy, the figure was more than $50 billion in less than a year, more than the value of Kenyan economy, the 4th largest in Africa. While we can only know for sure, whether present policy responses were overblown two years at least after the end of the outbreak, as humans there is a natural tendency to overprice the risks of viral transmission, even for a rare pathogen with statistically low risks like Ebola (MacNeil A, 2012).

While the future economics cost may be high, does the biology and epidemiology justify

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Ebola virus disease is a serious, often fatal condition in humans and nonhuman primates. Ebola is one of several viral hemorrhagic fevers, caused by infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus.

The fatality rates of Ebola vary depending on the strain. For example, Ebola-Zaire can have a fatality rate of up to 90 percent while Ebola-Reston has never caused a fatality in humans.

The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Ebola virus disease (EVD) is often characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat.

Ebola tends to spread quickly through families and friends as they are exposed to infectious secretions when caring for an ill individual. The time interval from infection with Ebola to the onset of symptoms ranges from 2-21 days.

Fast facts on Ebola:
  • Ebola is considered a zoonotic virus, meaning that it originated in animals and then spread to humans.
  • There is currently no vaccine available for Ebola, although several are in development.
  • One vaccine, called Ebola ça suffit, was found to be 100 percent effective in a trial involving 4,000 people in Guinea.

Symptoms of Ebola

The time interval from infection with Ebola to the onset of symptoms is 2-21 days, although 8-10 days is most common. Signs and symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • joint and muscle aches
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • lack of appetite

Some patients may experience:

  • rash
  • red eyes
  • hiccups
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • bleeding inside and outside of the body

Laboratory tests may show low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes. As long as the patient's blood and secretions contain the virus, they are infectious. In fact, Ebola virus was isolated from the semen of an infected man 61 days after the onset of illness.

What are the treatments for Ebola?


Research into a vaccine is ongoing.

There is currently no licensed vaccine available for Ebola. Several vaccines are being tested, but at this time, none are available for clinical use.

At the moment, treatment for Ebola is limited to intensive supportive care and includes:

  • balancing the patient's fluids and electrolytes
  • maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure
  • treating a patient for any complicating infections

Ebola vaccines

In October 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) organized an expert consultation to assess, test, and eventually license two promising Ebola vaccines:

  • cAd3-ZEBOV - GlaxoSmithKline has developed this vaccine in collaboration with the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH). It uses a chimpanzee-derived adenovirus vector with an Ebola virus gene inserted.
  • rVSV-ZEBOV - this was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg with NewLink Genetics, a company, located in Ames, IA. The vaccine uses a weakened virus found in livestock; one of its genes has been replaced by an Ebola virus gene.

On July 31 2015, Lancet published preliminary results of a vaccine trial funded and organized by the WHO; the Ebola ca Suffit vaccine had 100 percent efficacy in the trial, which took place in Guinea and involved 4,000 people. The full results of this trial were published in Lancet in February 2017.

The next step is to make these vaccines available as soon as possible - and in sufficient quantities - to protect critical frontline workers and to make a difference in the epidemic's future evolution.

Ebola prevention

It is still unknown how individuals are infected with Ebola, so stopping infection is still difficult. Preventing transmission is achieved by:

  • ensuring all healthcare workers wear protective clothing
  • implementing infection-control measures, such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant
  • isolation of Ebola patients from contact with unprotected persons

Thorough sterilization and proper disposal of needles in hospitals are essential in preventing further infection and halting the spread of an outbreak.

Ebola tends to spread quickly through families and among friends as they are exposed to infectious secretions when caring for an ill individual. The virus can also spread quickly within healthcare settings for the same reason, highlighting the importance of wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.

Together with the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a set of guidelines to help prevent and control the spread of Ebola - Infection Control for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers In the African Healthcare Setting.

What causes Ebola?

Ebola is caused by viruses in the Ebolavirus and Filoviridae family. Ebola is considered a zoonosis, meaning that the virus is present in animals and is transmitted to humans.

How this transmission occurs at the onset of an outbreak in humans is unknown.

In Africa, people have developed Ebola after handling infected animals found ill or dead, including chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope, and porcupines.

Person-to-person transmission occurs after someone infected with Ebolavirus becomes symptomatic. As it can take between 2 and 21 days for symptoms to develop, a person with Ebola may have been in contact with hundreds of people, which is why an outbreak can be hard to control and may spread rapidly.

How does Ebola transmission occur in humans?


When an Ebola infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Above is a list of ways Ebola can and cannot be transmitted.

Transmission of Ebola between humans can occur through:

  • Direct contact through broken skin and mucous membranes with the blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids of infected people.
  • Indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
  • Exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.
  • Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.
  • Exposure to the semen of people with Ebola or who have recovered from the disease - the virus can still be transmitted through semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
  • Contact with patients with suspected or confirmed EVD - healthcare workers have frequently been infected while treating patients.

There is no evidence that Ebola can be spread via insect bites.

What is the history of Ebola?


Ebola outbreaks in recent history have primarily affected West African countries such as Liberia.

The first cases of Ebola were reported simultaneously in 1976 in Yambuku, near the Ebola River in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and in Nzara, Sudan.

Since then, eruptions or asymptomatic cases of Ebola in humans and animals have surfaced intermittently in the following locations due to outbreaks, laboratory contamination, and accidents:

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
  • Sudan (South Sudan)
  • Senegal
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (U.S.)
  • Philippines
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Gabon
  • Ivory Coast
  • South Africa
  • Russia
  • Uganda
  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Sierra Leone

The 2014 Ebola outbreak was the largest in history, primarily affecting Guinea, northern Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the epidemic caused more than 11,000 deaths, with almost all occurring in West Africa.

In the U.S., reports indicate that there have been two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers.

A small number of cases were reported in Nigeria, Mali, and Senegal, with health authorities able to contain these cases and prevent further spread.

Risk factors for Ebola outbreak

The risk of contracting Ebola is low. There is a higher risk of becoming infected when:

  • Traveling to areas of Africa where there have been confirmed cases of Ebola.
  • Conducting animal research with monkeys imported from Africa or the Philippines.
  • Providing medical or personal care to people who may have been exposed to Ebola.
  • Preparing people for burial who have been infected with Ebola.

Tests and diagnosis

According to the WHO, samples from patients with Ebola are an extreme biohazard risk. Testing should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.

Before Ebola can be diagnosed, other diseases should be ruled out, and, if Ebola is suspected, the patient should be isolated. Public health professionals should be notified immediately. Ebola virus infections can be diagnosed definitively in a laboratory through several types of tests, including:

  • Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing.
  • IgM ELISA.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
  • Virus isolation.

In the more advanced stages of the disease or after recovery, diagnosis is made using IgM and IgG antibodies. Ebola can be diagnosed retrospectively in deceased patients by other forms of testing.

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