This Month Discussion – No. 02: EBOLA.

Ebola Virus

Ebola is a rare disease which has remerged. Primarily, it is spread from animals to humans (Zoonotic), however, human to human transmission can occur thereafter. It is caused by Ebola virus and sometimes referred to as Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). This viral disease is endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa (current an issue in DRC) and caused by 5 strains of the virus, 4 of which affect humans. Infection occurs in humans through direct contact with an infected bat, non-human primate, a sick person or a dead person infected with the virus. Bats are known reservoirs for this disease and most outbreaks are usually associated with them. Clinically, this viral disease affects many organs, damage blood vessels and the ability of the body to regulate itself, hence, it is classified as the haemorrhagic viral diseases. Also, Ebola is a highly infectious disease which causes a severe disease, deadly in both Human and animals (non-human primates).

TRANSMISSION

In 1976, the first human outbreaks were documented in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. This virus is named after the Ebola river and has remained one of the most challenging diseases of all time. Despite been discovered over 43 years ago, there is no approved vaccine or treatment. As a result, physicians only treat the symptoms and it has a fatality rate of 50-90%. Although it is a rare disease, the frequency of outbreaks in the last decade has been quite worrisome, notably, the West African Ebola virus epidemic outbreak in 2014-2016. This affected the socio-economic activities of the regions and many lost their life especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Largest outbreak

Additionally, DRC has suffered the most casualties ever since the first discovery of the virus. This is because of the high outbreaks, tradition associated with burials and resistance of the locals to adhere to instructions of the Non-governmental Organisations. 10 outbreaks have been recorded so far in the region. Also, a year-long outbreak of Ebola since 1st of August 2018 in DRC has been seen and sustained within its borders until 11 June 2019 when a child was diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda. Hopefully, the lives lost, and paralyzed socio-economic activities will cause the region to open up to help and adapt more preventive strategies as it is now an international emergency.

Sustainability of Transmission

Notwithstanding, animals have been greatly affected by the depletion of its Wildlife due to the Ebola disease over the years. For example, about 5000 gorillas died from the Zaire strain of the Ebola Virus in 2002-2003 in the Lossi Gorilla Sanctuary, Congo. This is one of the best available record so far of the danger posed by this disease in humans and animals which in turn affects the ecosystem. Fighting Ebola requires a collaborative effort and funding research for vaccine development.

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