What is Ebola?

Background Information 

The Ebola virus is part of the filoviridae family, which has single-stranded negative-sense enveloped RNA viruses. By 13th April 2016, there was already a sum of 28,652 cases of Ebola in the West African epidemic. About 40% (11325) of the total cases were fatal . Majority of the Ebola cases were found in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone  with lesser amount of cases imported to countries around the globe. Ebola can spread via direct contact with blood or other bodily fluid gtom a person who is sick with Ebola or died from Ebola. It can also be transmitted iatrogenically, via instruments such as needles and syringes. In some countries, it can spread through infected animals (when people hunt for food)

Symptoms

The time interval from infection with the virus to signs of the virus is between 2 to 21 days. The virus in humans will not spread until they develop symptoms. Symptoms includes vomiting, rash, diarrhoea, certain symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function and possibly both internal and external bleeding like having blood in stools. Test on blood and bodily fluid will be able to show low amount of leukocyte and platelet and increase in liver enzymes.

Ebola’s impact on our body 

The virus aims certain immune cells once it enters the body. It attacks the dendritic cells, which normally shows signs of an infection on its surfaces to activate the T cells (cells that could destroy other infected cells before the virus replicates). Hence, these damaged dendritic cells are not able to send signals and respond to the infection. To add-on, there will not be activation of antibodies that depend on the dendrititc cells. Furthermore, Ebola virus causes symptoms such as wide inflammation and fever and damage various type of tissues by making the immune cells to release inflammatory molecules or by invading cells and using it to multiply. Ebola virus causes the most damage to the liver as it destroy cells needed to produce coagulation protein and other essential components of plasma. In the gastrointestinal tract, damaged cells lead to diarrhea which may lead to dehydration in the patient. And also in the adrenal gland, the Ebola virus destroys cells that produce steroids to regulate blood pressure and result to circulatory failure. Ebola patients normally dies from shock and multiple organ failure due to damaged blood vessels which led to a decrease in blood pressure.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infections-spread-by-air-or-droplets.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5022139/
  3. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
  4. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/08/what-does-ebola-actually-do
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