Ebola is a zoonotic agent which is transmitted from animals to humans. It was reported that a variety of bats can carry this disease while the definitive host is humans and non-human primates.
Even though the origin of the plague is unknown. Researchers anticipate that the disease was contracted to humans from an animal. Despite the fact that its first occurrence is not known, we know how it is contracted between humans.
• Direct contact with body fluids of those infected such as blood, serum, plasma, urine, phlegm, saliva, drool, stool, vomit and semen.
• Direct contact with equipment used during the treatment of patient such as syringe, injection and bistoury
• Direct contact with infected animals (primates, bats etc.) and their body fluids
• It is not prone to air, food or water transmission.
It is estimated that patient zero contracted the disease from an animal. This contraction is thought to be possibly caused by infected animal meat to be eaten. Consumption of wild animals is an ancient tradition in Africa. Africans consume the meat of several animals including monkeys, bats, lions and elephants. It should be remembered that meat of animals such as bat, monkey etc. from Africa can potentially cause the disease.
Medical staff and relatives which tend to a patient are under the risk of disease as well. Anyone who are to tend the patients should use special equipment specific for biological/chemical threats. Such equipment should be handled by well-trained staff.
Ebola virus is much more severe and lethal as opposed to Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. Based on the period so far since its first identification in 1976, the disease caused by the virus results in death by 60-80% in the infected. The death rate is over 50% in the last plague.
Today, Ebola virus does not have an official treatment. The symptoms of the patients are treated with appropriate methods. Patients with bleeding are given blood transfusion while coagulating agents are administered in the event that coagulation failure develops due to bleeding. Furthermore, the lack of water and salt caused by the disease is compensated.
A medication called ZMapp developed in USA is desperately strived for the treatment of the disease as the disease itself is lethal. This medication has various antibodies which are effective against the virus. Furthermore, the safety trials of vaccine which was developed against the virus were initiated on humans. The Ebola vaccine was tried on a human being for the first time in UK on 19/09/2014. No serious adverse effects have been observed so far.
The disease is currently restricted with 5 countries in East Africa. The cases began to appear about 1.5 years ago. Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria are the top 4 countries affected by the plague. Cases were also detected in Congo simultaneously yet it was understood that the virus which caused the diseases in Congo was different than the virus that led to the plague. There is no case identified in any other country than already mentioned.
It manifests itself with hemorrhagic fever. In this regard, its clinical symptoms resemble with those of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which is also seen in out country Body temperature of a patient exceeds 38, 6°C. Fatigue, intense headaches, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting and stomachache are among the common symptoms as well. Hemorrhages occur in Ebola patients. These hemorrhages can be either blood leaking from mouth, anus, nose or ears, or they can be observed as subcutaneous bruising and swelling of affected areas in the case of bleeding under the skin.
The virus can only survive in the semen of men who have recovered from the disease for a period of 3 months. Those who previously had Ebola are recommended to use condom or avoid from sexual intercourse. In the event that a patient recovers from Ebola virus disease, their body will have produced antibodies which will remain for decades thanks to which they do not contract Ebola virus again.
Currently, there is no circumstance to raise concerns in Turkey. USA requested its citizens to avoid from travelling to the disease area unless it is vitally important. If you have to visit the plague region, follow the instructions as follows:
• Disinfect your hands with alcohol based hand disinfectants.
• Do not touch particularly sick people (who have fever, fatigue or bleeding) or any excrements from them (saliva, drool, blood, vomit, urine, stool etc.)
• Do not touch any personal belongings of sick people
• Do not touch dead bodies
• Do not eat meat of animals particularly such as monkey or bat, do not touch dead or alive bodies of these.
• Do not go to hospitals which give treatment to Ebola patients
• If you have symptoms like fever (>38.6°C), headache, fatigue, diarrhea, stomachache, muscle pain or bleeding while you are in a high risk area, immediately refer to a hospital for medical assistance.
• If you have these symptoms, please arrive at a hospital without contacting with anyone and even touching anywhere.
• If you are found to have the disease, inform the medical staff on the people you have touched in the last 10 days.
It was first spotted in Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) as a hemorrhagic fever disease in 1976. It is a RNA virus and it is classified under the same family with Marburg virus.
Efforts of major organizations such as United Nations and World Health Organization to put an end to the plague have not given any results yet. Although even military measures were taken, the plague was not taken under control. Transportation has gathered pace today. A plane which takes off from anywhere can reach the other end of the world within hours. Ebola poses a risk to the entire world as the symptoms take up to 20 days to emerge once it is contracted and the disease agent can be contracted with direct contact between people. Ebola virus can be transmitted quite rapidly between humans.