Ebola is the most famous member of the Filoviridae, a virus family that also includes the Marburg virus and Cuevavirus. Ebola is endemic to Africa, particularly the Republic of the Congo and Sudan; the Marburg virus is found in sub- Saharan Africa.
The incubation period, or time between infection and appearance of symptoms, is thought to last two to twenty-one days, possibly longer. Symptoms appear suddenly, and include severe headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, malaise, and appetite loss. These symptoms may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
Here are 4 things many people don’t know about Ebola Virus Disease:
1. Ebola Virus Disease could be expunged from human population but not completely from the environment. The Ebola virus has natural hosts within which it causes no disease. In Africa, fruit bats, particularly species of the genera Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti and Myonycteris torquata, are considered possible natural hosts for Ebola virus. As long as these bats and other unknown natural hosts remain part of the ecosystem, there is always the possibility of re-emergence of Ebola Virus Disease.
Surveillance of the disease in animal populations is key to controlling its menace in human populations. Outbreaks in animal populations have always preceded outbreaks in human populations.
2. Ebola Virus Disease could be airborne. EVD is well known to be transmitted through direct contact with fluids from infected persons and animals. However, inhalation of aerosols generated from fluids containing the virus could possibly lead to infection. Therefore, aerosols from cough or sneeze from infected persons could lead to onward transmission of the virus within an effective distance.
3. Gloves and other appropriate protective equipments worn when taking care of infected patients could serve as vehicles for onward transmission of the disease. These protective clothing could be fomites if precautionary measures are not taken during its removal from care-givers and disposal. This may have been the reason most health-care personnel were infected during the initial stages of the recent outbreak.
4. Hand sanitizers may not be full proof against the Ebola virus. There is not a lot of data on how effective those sanitizers are against viruses. More importantly, a recognised research work on the effectiveness of hand sanitizers on Ebola virus is not available. A hand sanitizer is not a substitute for careful hygiene. Regular hand wash with soap is the most effective way to keep hands clean.
For further reading visit:
World Health Organization (WHO). Ebola Virus Disease [http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/]
Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease). [http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/]