The most deadly killers on this earth are too small to see with the naked eye. These tiny animals who hunt and kill others are viruses. In my report, I will answer many basic questions concerning one of the fastest killing viruses, the Ebola virus. Questions such as “How does it infect its victims?”, “How are Ebola victims treated?”, “How are Ebola outbreaks controlled?” and many others related to this deadly virus.
The Ebola virus is a member of the negative left alone and helpless RNA viruses known as filoviruses. There are four different strains of the Ebola virus – Zaire, Sudan, Tai and Reston. They are very almost the same except for small serological differences and tiny chemical assembly instruction inside of living things sequence differences. The Reston Strain is the only one which does not affect humans. The Ebola virus was named after the Ebola river in Zaire, Africa after its first outbreak in 1976.
When magnified by an electron microscope, the ebola virus looks like long thin threads and are threadlike in shape. It usually is found in the form of a “U- shape”. There are many 7nm spikes which are 10nm apart from each other visible on the surface of the virus. The average length and distance or line from one edge of something, through its center, to the other edge of the virus is 920 nm and 80nm. The virions are highly changeable in length, some reaching lengths as long as 14000 nm. The Ebola virus consists of a helical nucleocapsid, which is a protein coat and the nucleic acid it encloses, and a host cell membrane, which is a lipoprotein unit that surrounds the virus and received/made from form the host cell’s membrane. The virus is composed of 7 polypeptides, a nucleoprotein, a glycoprotein, a polymerase and 4 other undesignated proteins. These proteins are made/created by mRNA that are written down by the RNA of the virus. The total set of tiny chemical assembly instructions of a living thing consists of a single thin piece/string of negative RNA, which is noninfectious itself.
Once the virus enters the body, it travels through the bloodstream and is copied in many organs. The machine used to penetrate the membranes of cells and enter the cell is still unknown. Once the virus is inside a cell, the RNA is written down and copied, producing mRNA which are used to produce the virus’ proteins. The RNA is copied in the cytoplasm and is settled by the creation of an antisense positive RNA thin piece which serves as an example that should be copied for producing more Ebola. As the infection goes forward, the cytoplasm develops “well-known including in something bodies” which means that it will contain the viral nucleocapsid that will become highly ordered. The virus then puts groups together and buds off from the host cell, while getting its lipoprotein coat from the outer membrane. This destruction of the host cell happens quickly, while producing large numbers of viruses growing from it. The Ebola virus mainly attacks cells of the lymphatic organs, liver, ovaries, testes, and the cells of the reticuloendothelial system. The huge destruction of the liver is the trademark of Ebola. The victim loses huge amounts of blood especially in mucosa, abdomen, and the vagina. Capillary leakage and bleeding leads to a huge loss in intravascular. In deadly cases, shock and sudden and serious lung-related sickness can also be seen along with the bleeding. Many victims are insane due to high fevers and many die of uncontrollable shock.
During the beginning of Ebola, the host will experience weakness, fever, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. As the infection goes forward, vomiting, limited liver function, chest pains, rash and diarrhoea begin. External bleeding from skin and injection places and internal bleeding from organs happen due to failure of blood to clot.
How “patient zero” gets natural infection is still a mystery. After the first person is infected, further spread of Ebola to other humans is due to direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood and excretions. It is also spread through contact with the patient’s skin which carries the virus. Spread can be complete either by person to person transmission, needle transmission or through sexual contact. Person to person transmission happens when people have direct contact with Ebola patients and do not have good protection. Family members and doctors who catch the virus usually get it from this type of transmission. Needle transmission happens when needles, which have been used on Ebola patients, are reused. This happens often in developing countries such as Zaire and Sudan because the health care is underfinanced. A lucky person who has recovered from the Ebola virus can also infect another person through sexual contact. This is because the person may still carry the virus in them. A fourth method of transmission is carried by the air transmission. This type is not proven 100% although there have been experiments done to prove that this type of transmission is highly possible. The time between the sudden, unwanted entry into a place of Ebola and the appearance of its signs of sickness is 2-21 days.
The Ebola virus may take up to 10 days. The methods used to detect the virus are very slow, compared to how fast Ebola can kill its victims. Blood or tissue samples are sent to a high- containment laboratory designed for working with infected substances and are tested for clearly particular disease-fighters or the viruses material itself. Not very long ago, a skin test has been developed which can detect infections much faster. A skin sample is fixed in a chemical called Formalin, which kills the virus, and is then safely taken to a lab. It is processed with chemicals and if the dead Ebola virus is present, the medical sample will turn bright red. No treatment, or virus-killing therapy exists. Roughly ninety percent of all Ebola victims die. The patient can only receive intensive supportive care and hope that they can be one of the lucky ten percent who survive. In November of 1995, Russian scientist claimed that they had discovered a cure for Ebola. It uses a disease-fighter called Immunoglobulin G. They protected horses with it and challenged them with live Ebola Zaire viruses. The scientists took their blood and used it as treatment for poison or disease. With the treatment, they have developed Ebola unable to be harmed sheep, goat, pigs and monkeys. USA Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease received some horse-related Immunoglobulin and had some successes but fell short of the great claims of the Russians. This discovery does give grounds for feelings of hope that an effective cure for Ebola can be found.
To control an outbreak of Ebola, you must prevent further spread of the virus. The Center for Disease and Control usually sends a team of medical scientists to the area of the outbreak where they provide opinions about what could or should be done about a situation and help to prevent more cases. To limit the spread, they collect medical samples, study the course of the virus, and look for others who may have been in contact with the virus. If anyone has been exposed to the virus, they are put under close watching and are sprayed with chemicals. The patients are far apart from others to interrupt person to person spread at the hospitals. All hospital personnel in contact with the patient must wear gear such as gowns, masks, gloves, and goggles. Visitors are not allowed. Disposable materials and wastes are removed or burned after use. Reusable materials, such as syringes and needles are sterilized. All surfaces are cleaned with carefully cleaning solution. Deadly cases are buried or burned-up. The outbreak is officially over when two maximum incubation periods have passed without any new cases. In the past, there has been 4 major outbreaks. The first happened in 1976 in Zaire, Africa where there were 280 deaths out of 318 cases. The second also happened in 1976, but in a nearby country, Sudan, Africa where 150 added victims out of 250 cases died. In total, there were 340 deaths out of the 568 who were infected, a death rate of almost 60%. A smaller outbreak rose up in 1979, also in Sudan. There were only 34 cases and 22 deaths. Tiny outbreaks have happened occasionally in Africa up until 1995. In 1995, after 16 years of hiding, the fourth appearance of Ebola came out visible and destroyed Africa once again. This time it was in Kikwit, Zaire. The first patient was discovered on January the 6th and the outbreak was officially over on August the 24th. The animal species which carries the Ebola virus has not been found. Since outbreaks begin when man comes in contact with the animal reservoir, scientist have made attempts during the 1970 outbreaks to find it, but have been unsuccessful. The 1995 outbreak gave scientist a perfect opportunity to search for the source once again. After locating “patient zero”, a charcoal- maker named Gaspard Menga, they decided to search the jungle where he probably came in contact with Ebola. They collected over 18,000 animals and 30,000 insects. These include mosquitoes, hard ticks, rodents, birds, bats, cats, small bush antelope, snakes, lizards and a few monkeys. After collecting, the medical samples are tested for disease-fighters of Ebola or Ebola itself. The scientist will continue searching until the end of the year, hoping that they will find the animal reservoir.
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