Ebola virus

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Ebola virusThe on-going Ebola outbreak in the West African countries is so far the worst in the history of the deadly disease. The virus seems to have gripped the world's interest due to its destructive potential, claiming nearly 7000 lives in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea -- worst-hit Ebola nations in West Africa. Although a few cases of Ebola have been reported from Australia, America and other nations of the world, no positive cases of Ebola virus in India have been reported till date. Read about how Ebola virus originated.

The WHO (World health Organization) has claimed that with proper sanitation measures and Ebola screening practices, it is possible to restrict the spread of Ebola virus. The Indian Government is leaving no stone unturned to restrict the entry of Ebola virus in India. The Government plans to tackle Ebola emergency include mock drills to evaluate preparedness of plans, setting up a control room and a helpline for Ebola information in national capital,  installing Ebola screening centres at major airports and spreading awareness about the Ebola viral disease.

Ebola virus in India: India, being a nation harbouring a huge population, could easily facilitate the spread of the virus, once it enters the nation. Moreover, lack of proper healthcare facilities and lack of natural immunity against the virus can cause the disease to spread rapidly. Given that the virus mutates rapidly and has a high fatality rate, the virus should never gain entry into the country. In order to help you stay safe from this deadly disease, here are all your questions about the condition -- answered.

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Causes

The Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe condition caused by a virus from the Filoviridae family. According to scientists there are five different types of the virus, all of which have the potential to infect humans. Here are 10 reasons that make the Ebola virus deadly for humans.

According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) this disease can be transmitted from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In humans the disease can be transmitted by the following methods:


  • Coming into contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person.

  • Healthcare workers may contract the disease through transmission as well through contact with infected bodily fluids. Read about how does the Ebola virus kill?

  • Handling the meat from infected animals.

  • Contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who has passed away.

Risk Factors

Dr Ratan Kumar Vaish, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal medicine, Rockland Group of Hospitals, Delhi-NCR says, ‘The condition is contagious, so migratory populations are most likely to get infected and transmit the virus. Interestingly, this condition is also a hospital acquired infection and is commonly transmitted to hospital staff.

Apart from that, high risk individuals include diabetics, immunocompromised patients, patients with kidney and liver failure and HIV infected people.’ Here is how the Ebola virus spreads in humans.

Symptoms

The incubation period (or the time between when the actual infection takes place to the time when a person sees symptoms of this condition) for this disease is about one week. After this period a person will commonly see the signs that are considered as ‘early symptoms’.  

According to Dr Ratan, the early symptoms include -


Apart from that a person may also experience symptoms like pain in the lower back, arthritis like pain all over the body, diarrhea and a sore throat. Here are Ebola Facts: Top 7 myths busted

Once the condition has progressed a person may notice symptoms like:

  • Bleeding from the mouth, ears, nose and ears.

  • Increased sensitivity to pain on the skin,

  • Genital swelling

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Rashes all over the body,

  • And reddening of the roof of the mouth.


Read about Ebola virus signs and symptoms you need to watch out for!

Diagnosis

Usually a doctor will be able to diagnose the condition with the symptoms alone, but in order to confirm the diagnosis he/she may prescribe tests like - 


  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)

  • Coagulation studies (a test to check for the amount of time a person’s blood needs to clot)

  • Viral antigen testing (a test to check for the presence of the viral antigen)

  • Liver function test

Treatment

Dr Ratan says, ‘There is no definitive treatment, and common anti-viral therapies do not work on the Ebola virus. Therefore the goal of the treatment is to treat the symptoms and prevent secondary infections or complications like pneumonia and liver failure.’ (Read: ZMapp – Experimental drug for Ebola)

Prognosis

According to the WHO reports, on an average, 80% of the people infected with this virus do die. Their death is usually due to a drop in their blood pressure and failure of organs. Read in detail about survival rate of Ebola virus disease.

Prevention

ebola prevention1According to Dr Ratan, ‘There aren’t any vaccinations available as of now, so basic hygiene is of importance and a must be followed in order to prevent the onset of the condition. Simple activities like washing your hands well, drinking water from a clean source, maintaining general hygiene and cooking your meat well, can all serve as precautionary measures.'

Apart from that people should avoid crowded places, or those that are known to have an outbreak. It is also important that if they notice any early symptoms, they should visit a doctor immediately. Here are the common precautions or tips one should follow to prevent Ebola infection -


  • Educate yourself about Ebola

  • Maintain sanitary conditions

  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids

  • Treat injuries

  • Avoid crowded places

  • Use protective gear

  • Do not eat under-cooked meat

  • Avoid unnecessary travel (Read: Ebola Virus Travel Tips — Precautions you should take)


 

The content has been verified by Dr Ratan Kumar Vaish, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal medicine, Rockland Group of Hospitals, Delhi-NCR.

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