Important UPDATE at the end of the article!
With the recent outbreak of Ebola in Dallas, TX there seems to be no shortage of articles on various survival sites and boards that are written to cause a panic, but more importantly, SELL YOU SOMETHING! They want you to buy that nice haz-mat suit and gas mask, or that shiny colloidal silver generator, claiming it will not only stop the infection, but actually cure it and that case of herpes you’ve had since 11th grade.
Don’t buy into that panic and outright bullshit! In this article we are going to give you the facts about Ebola but most importantly, we aren’t going to try to sell you a damn thing!
A Brief History of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
Ebola hemorrhagic fever was first noted in Zaire (currently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC) in 1976. The original outbreak was in a village near the Ebola River after which the disease was named. During that time, the virus was identified in person-to-person contact transmission.
Of the 318 patients diagnosed with Ebola, 88% died. Since that time, there have been multiple outbreaks of Ebola virus, and five strains have been identified; four of the strains are responsible for the high death rates. The four Ebola strains are termed as follows: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, and Bundibugyo virus, with Zaire being the most lethal strain. A fifth strain termed Reston has been found in the Philippines. The strain infects primates, pigs, and humans and causes few if any symptoms and no deaths in humans.
Most outbreaks of the more lethal strains of Ebola have occurred in Africa and mainly in small or medium-sized towns. Once recognized, African officials have isolated the area until the outbreak ceased. However, in this new outbreak that began in Africa in March 2014, some of the infected patients have reached larger city centers and have been hospitalized.
Unfortunately, many people may have been exposed to the virus in the city, thus causing more infections (and deaths). This outbreak in Africa has now spread to Guinea’s capital and has been detected in the neighboring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. About 122 infected people have been diagnosed and 78 have died as of Apr. 1, 2014.
The infecting Ebola virus detected this outbreak is the Zaire strain, the most pathogenic strain of Ebola. Health agencies are terming this outbreak as an “unprecedented epidemic.”
Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Signs, Symptoms, and Causes
The cause of Ebola hemorrhagic fever is Ebola virus infection that results in coagulation abnormalities, including gastrointestinal bleeding, development of a rash, cytokine release, damage to the liver, and massive viremia (large number of viruses in the blood) that leads to damaged vascular cells that form blood vessels.
As the massive viremia continues, coagulation factors are compromised and the micro-vascular endothelial cells are damaged or destroyed, resulting in diffuse bleeding internally and externally, bleeding from the mucosal surfaces like nasal passages and/or mouth and gums and even from the eyes termed conjunctival bleeding. This uncontrolled bleeding leads to blood and fluid loss and can cause hypotensive shock that causes death in many Ebola-infected patients.
Unfortunately, early symptoms of Ebola virus disease are nonspecific and mimic the common cold or the flu and include the following:
- stomach discomfort
- decreased appetite
- joint and muscle discomfort/pain
As the disease progresses, patients may develop other symptoms and signs such as:
- Eye redness
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Bleeding both inside and outside the body (such as, bleeding from the nose, mouth, ears and, eyes)
- Difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Ebola virus disease symptoms and signs may appear from about 2 to 21 days after exposure (average is 8 to 10 days). It is unclear why some patients can survive and others die from this disease, but patients who die usually have a poor immune response to the virus.
Treatment for Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
According to the CDC, WHO, and others, the standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever is still limited to supportive therapy only.
Supportive therapy is balancing the patient’s fluid and electrolytes, through IV therapy, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating such patients for any complicating infections. Any patients suspected of having Ebola hemorrhagic fever should be isolated, and caregivers should wear protective garments. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever, though an experimental drug combination may have been successful in the treatment of 2 US aid worker who were infected in Africa and brought back to the US for treatment.
CDC officials have stated that they, “just don’t know if the drug combination that was used on these two patients had any significant impact on the recovery of these individuals.” The reason they don’t know is the sample size (two patients) is not large enough to make any definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of this course of treatment.
Soldiers assigned to USAMRIID (the US Army’s infectious disease unit) and elements from the 4th Infantry Division at Ft, Carson, CO are being sent to Africa to help fight the outbreak of Ebola there. It is rumored that they will be using this new combination of drugs to treat people infected with the virus so they can test the effectiveness of this new drug “cocktail” on a larger sample size and gain valuable insight for treating future outbreaks.
Complications of Ebola Virus Infection
Ebola hemorrhagic fever often has many complications:
- Organ failures
- Severe bleeding
- Death (about 50% to 100% of infected patients)
Those patients fortunate enough to survive Ebola hemorrhagic fever still may have complications that may take many months to resolve. Survivors may experience:
- Hair loss
- Sensory changes
- Inflammation of organs (such as, the testicles and the eyes)
The prognosis of Ebola hemorrhagic fever is often poor; the death rate of this disease ranges from about 50% to 100%, and those who survive may experience the complications listed above.
Preventing Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
The main way to prevent getting Ebola hemorrhagic fever is to not travel to areas where it is endemic and by staying away from any people who may have the disease.
Medical caregivers should protect themselves from becoming affected by strict adherence to barriers to the virus (wearing gloves, gowns, goggles, and a mask). Currently, there is no vaccine available against the Ebola virus strains that cause Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans.
With Ebola deaths world wide surpassing 10,000 this past weekend a 2010 report from the British Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) (the UK’s version of USAMRID) has made its way out into the public and it has some startling conclusions.
According to the report the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus (Zebov) can stay infectious on surfaces for up to 50 days under certain conditions.
In the 2010 paper, “The survival of filoviruses in liquids, on solid substrates and in a dynamic aerosol”, Sophie Smithers and others tested 2 strains of the Ebola virus (Zebov and Lake Victoria marburgvirus-Marv) on various surfaces. Each sample was put into Guinea Pig tissue and tested for the ability to survive on different surfaces.
The viruses were stored at 39º F on surfaces from wood to glass and plastic, on day 26 of the study period the researchers were able to extract living Zebov and Marv samples from both glass and plastic.
By day 50 the researchers were only able to recover living samples of Zebov from glass. “This study has demonstrated that ﬁloviruses are able to survive and remain infectious, for extended periods when suspended within liquid and dried onto surfaces”, said the researchers.
According to the researchers, “The data from this study extends our knowledge on the survival of filoviruses under different conditions.” They do stress that these tests were carried out in a controlled lab environment, and not in the real world, they published the data on their findings to highlight Ebola survival rates on various surfaces.
Following a rise in Ebola infections the CDC updated its Ebola guidelines, they explained that Ebola is not spread through air, water, or food and that only direct contact with an infected person, who is displaying symptoms of infection (as noted above) can spread the virus.
Ebola was once thought to originated in gorillas, because human outbreaks began after people ate gorilla meat. But scientists now believe that bats are the natural reservoir for the virus, and that apes and humans catch it from eating food that bats have drooled or defecated on, or by coming in contact with surfaces covered in infected bat droppings and then touching their eyes or mouths.
According to Doctors Without Borders the current outbreak seems to have started in a village near Guéckédou, Guinea, where bat hunting is common.
Even with this new information DON’T BUY INTO ALL THE PANIC! There is a VERY LOW chance that you will contract Ebola unless you are in active contact with an infected person who is displaying SYMPTOMS! With a mortality rate of 80% Ebola IS a very frightening virus but with a little knowledge and common sense you stand a better chance of being mauled by a bear than you do contracting Ebola.
Don’t fall for the rhetoric of the doom and gloom crowd and spend your hard earned money on a bunch of crap that you not only don’t need but will probably never use!
Thanks for reading! I look forward to seeing you comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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All Rights Reserved
Samb, Saliou. “Scale of Guinea’s Ebola epidemic unprecedented: aid agency.” Reuters. Mar. 31, 2014. .
Sullivan, Nancy, Zhi-Yong Yang, and Gary J. Nabel. “Ebola Virus Pathogenesis: Implications for Vaccines and Therapies.” Journal of Virology 77.18 Sept. 2003. <http://jvi.asm.org/content/77/18/9733>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.” Apr. 7, 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever: Chronology of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreaks.” Apr. 7, 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/resources/outbreak-table.html>.
Daily Mail Online. “Ebola can survive on surfaces for almost two months!” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2809803/Ebola-surfaces-TWO-months-Tests-reveal-certain-strains-survive-weeks-stored-low-temperatures.html#ixzz3HS7bMZ6O