Ebola: what it is, symptoms, diagnosis, causes and treatment

It was in December of last year 2013 when the first case of Ebola, registered in Guinea-Conakry. Since then, 729 people have already lost their lives, and the epidemic is spreading "out of control" in western West Africa (at the crossroads of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia). We are, according to experts, before the most devastated Ebola outbreak, which has become a real challenge for the health authorities not only of the affected countries, but of the entire world.

In this sense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain discourages its citizens from traveling to Sierra Leone and postponing such displacement. However, in case of absolute necessity, it recommends avoiding certain border areas of Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry, Freetown (the capital), Sierra Leone and Liberia and the districts of Kailahum and Kenema.

But what is Ebola? What symptoms does it cause and what are its causes? Is there an effective medical treatment ?.

What is Ebola?

The Ebola is the name of a virus of the family Filoviridae and genus Filovirus. Its name comes from the Ebola River, which we found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it was first identified in 1976 during an epidemic.

It is a virus that causes the viral hemorrhagic fever of Ebola, an infectious and highly contagious disease, which is very serious and affects both humans and other species of the animal kingdom.

This virus infects the capillary endothelium and several types of immune cells, presenting a lethality of up to 90%.

The incubation period varies from 2 to 21 days from the moment in which the infection occurs; that is, it would be the interval from the infection to the moment in which the symptoms appear.

How are the symptoms of Ebola?

In the beginning it produces a severe acute viral disease, characterized by the sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, intense weakness, sore throat and headache, rashes, diarrhea and vomiting.

As the hours go by, it causes renal and hepatic dysfunction, and in some cases both internal and external hemorrhages.

We can summarize these symptoms in the following section:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Headache and throat pain
  • Muscle aches and discomfort in the joints.
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Skin rash (appearance of reddish skin rash).
  • Red eyes (conjunctival congestion).
  • Internal and external hemorrhages in some cases.
  • Renal and hepatic dysfunction.

How does the Ebola contagion occur?

Experts believe that the contagion occurs above all through the direct contact with secretions and blood of infected patients and animals, regardless of whether they are alive or have died.

There is no "carrier" status, so Ebola virus infections are only acute.

How is Ebola diagnosed?

exist laboratory exams specific tests that allow the detection of the presence of the Ebola virus in the blood or in the patient's serum, especially in the acute phase. The determination of genomic or subgenomic RNA stands out.

However, the most commonly used detection technique is the detection of IgM and igG antibodies by the ELISA method, which is based on the capture of the antibodies present in the patient's serum when they react with a virus protein.

There are also other related tests, such as hemogram They can provide data related to the infection, highlighting the existence of leukopenia (reduced white blood cell count), elevation of the hematocrit number and decrease of platelets.

Ebola treatment

There is currently no medical treatment aimed at fighting the Ebola virus. That is, we are only faced symptomatic medical treatments for the treatment of fever and pain.

It is very important that doctors have strict control of vital signs, such as: heart rate, pulse and blood pressure.

What is the prognosis of Ebola?

Since hemorrhagic fever due to Ebola virus is a life-threatening pathology, his prognosis is bad. Experts estimate that the time from the onset of Ebola symptoms to death varies between 2 to 21 days.

The cut of mortality ranges between 50% to 90%, depending on the type of Ebola virus that caused the infection.

How can Ebola be prevented?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a series of basic recommendations for the control and prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus:

  • Decreased risk of human infection:
    - Decrease contact with wild animals that may be infected, such as apes, monkeys and bats.
    - Avoid the consumption of raw meat.
    - When handling animals, always use gloves and protective clothing.
    - Use gloves, masks and special gowns to reduce the risk of transmission from person to person.
    - Wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap, especially after visiting sick relatives in the hospital.
  • Prevention of infection in health centers:
    - Use of isolation measures.
    - Use of necessary equipment (such as gowns, gloves and mask) to reduce the risk of transmission from patients to health personnel.

Images | Wikimedia / Flickr This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesInfections

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