General Studies IIHealth



An Ebola outbreak in Guinea that started in February, infecting 16 people and killing 12, has been declared over by WHO

About Ebola:

  • Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by Ebola viruses.
  • Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus 
  • The disease has a high risk of death, killing 25% to 90% of those infected, with an average of about 50%.This is often due to shock from fluid loss, and typically follows six to 16 days after symptoms appear.
  • Transmission: Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts, able to spread the virus without being affected by it.
  • The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood from infected humans or other animals. Spread may also occur from contact with items recently contaminated with bodily fluids. Spread of the disease through the air between primates, including humans, has not been documented in either laboratory or natural conditions. Semen or breast milk of a person after recovery from EVD may carry the virus for several weeks to months.
  • Symptoms: symptoms of Ebola can be sudden and include:

    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    • Symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function
    • In some cases, both internal and external bleeding

History of Ebola:

 Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Yambuku outbreak occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name. The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. The first cases were notified in March 2014. The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability

Ebola River tributary of River Congo
Ebola River Tributary of River Congo

Ebola Virus Strains

There are 5 species of Ebola Virus (belonging to the virus family Filoviridae) that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebola virus, Zaire ebola virus, and Sudan ebola virus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 West African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species.

  • The Ebola virus is a member of the RNA virus known as ‘Filoviriade’.
  • The Ebola virus is the world’s third deadliest infectious disease after HIV.
  • The new strain of Ebola is called Ebola Tai(WHO).


It can be difficult to clinically distinguish Ebola from other infectious diseases such as malariatyphoid fever, and meningitis but confirmation that symptoms are caused by Ebola virus infection are made using the following diagnostic methods:

  • ELISA (antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)
    • Antigen-capture detection tests
    • Serum neutralization test
    • Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
    • Electron microscopy
    • Virus isolation by cell culture.

Ebola Treatment

  • As such, there is no treatment for Ebola. In 2016, a vaccine was developed offering 70 – 100% prevention against the disease, called an rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine.
  • An infected person should be isolated completely. Caregivers should wear full protective gear while handling Ebola patients.

Ebola Virus Disease – A Challenge to India

Ebola which is native of African continent is spreading to many other countries through the people who are affected by this virus.  Medical checkup is done at the airport to the passengers from Africa. But unfortunately they may not be recognized as infected because the virus takes almost 21 days to incubate. So even if the person is affected he is not able to be identified.

India is also taking measures so that the virus should not be spread to the country. But there are thousands of Indians who are working in Ebola infected areas in Africa. If they return to their homeland – India – then chances of spreading of the virus is there. It’s really a big challenge to India to tackle the virus. Although the government is making efforts to screen the people at international airports, the potential threat is still there. Dense population and poor sanitation are the main problems to tackle Ebola in India. Health care services in India are abysmal.

Source: WHO

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