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Ebola Viral Disease: What Is to Be Done?

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Ebola viral disease: What is to be Done? On March 21, 2014, there was a report of a disease that was ripping through African countries. It was soon discovered that the disease was the Ebola viral disease also known as EVD. In a matter of a few short months, the Ebola virus was reported in three of Guinea’s Conakry city districts named Gueckedou, Macenta, and Kissidougou, in Liberia’s Foya district, and in Sierra Leone (Dixon, Meredith G., and Ilana J. Schafer). On October 23, 2014, there was the first recorded Ebola case in the United States. There would be three more confirmed cases before the news would declare that the United States was Ebola-free. Those that had been infected with the virus had picked them up while in Guinea and had been transported to the U.S. for treatment. There was a scare when two health care personnel tested positive with the virus while caring for others. However, due to Emory Hospital’s fantastic protocols, the virus was contained and eventually cleared from the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Nonetheless, the Ebola viral disease is a deadly virus most commonly found in African countries in which outbreaks have occurred throughout history; but through careful procedures, and a change in current ideals, it can be contained and even prevented on a broader scale. The first main concept is the Ebola is a deadly disease that has affected hundreds around the world and currently does not have a cure. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola is defined as, “a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains”. The virus doesn’t necessarily show symptoms right away. In fact, a person might not show symptoms until after twenty-one days from when they caught the disease. Numerous early symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, headache, muscle ache, vomiting, diarrhea of blood and mucus, conjunctivitis, maculopapular rash that eventually covers the entire body. The next stage of the virus comprises of blood clots in vital organs (i.e. the liver, spleen, and brain), collapse of capillaries, and hemorrhaging from all of the body’s orifices and kidney failure. Due to such damage caused by the virus, the unfortunate result for many without immediate and powerful medical care is death (Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, and H. Bradford, MD Hawley). The fatality rate has varied according to the different outbreaks over history. But in all, the past fatality rates have included eighty-eight percent in 1995, eighty-eight percent in Zaine and fifty-three percent in Sudan in 1976, seventy-one percent in 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and fifty-one to fifty-nine percent in West African countries in 2014 from February to August (Dixon, Meredith G., and Ilana J. Schafer) (Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, and H. Bradford, MD Hawley) (Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014)). There are numerous ways to pass along the disease. The disease originates from wildlife but the host specie (the one the officially carries the disease) is not currently known. However, experts think that bats are the most likely. Their feces contaminate food and water, which the wildlife consumes. Then, people come into contact directly with the infected bat feces or indirectly through infected animals. Thus, an outbreak occurs as infected persons come into contact with others. In summary, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (e.g., humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It is also important to include that the disease can be transmitted even after death such as during funeral preparation (Dixon, Meredith G., and Ilana J. Schafer ). The deadly Ebola virus has been named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo where is originated (Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, and H. Bradford, MD Hawley).
A second main point is that Ebola is a recent disease with a sad history. As mentioned above, the Ebola viral disease originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The first case was reported to be in 1976 (Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, and H. Bradford, MD Hawley). Research would later reveal that there are four different strains of the Ebola disease and each vary in their level of deadliness. The types include the Zaire, Sudan, Ivory Coast, and Reston strains. The location and history of notable Ebola virus outbreaks is as follows: 1976 in Zaire and Sudan in which four hundred and thirty-one people died, 1995 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in which two hundred and fifty people died, 2000 and 2001 in Uganda in which there were two hundred and twenty-four deaths, October 2001 through March 2002 in Gabon there was a fatality rate of eighty-two percent, October 2001 through December 2003 in the Republic of the Congo in which two hundred and seven out of two hundred and thirty-five people died, and again in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 the fatality rate was seventy-one percent (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In relation to the 2014 outbreak, it is considered to be the largest epidemic in history in which it is the first time that West Africa has been affected. The CDC reports:
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. There were a small number of cases reported [elsewhere] however, these cases are considered to be contained, with no further spread…Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States. CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent the further spread of Ebola within the United States. CDC is working with other U.S. government agencies…[and] the World Health Organization (WHO)... CDC has also deployed teams of public health experts to West Africa and will continue to send experts to the affected countries (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Such a statement carries the weight of responsibility to help those countries around the world that are battling the Ebola epidemic. But how are experts actually dealing with the Ebola crisis? The third and final main point is that Ebola may not have a cure yet, but through diligent work and a change in ideals, it can be prevented and hopefully soon treated. The Ebola virus’s symptoms are very similar to that of the flu. Doctor’s then need to be educated on how to easily distinguish one from the other. If the patient has been to a country where Ebola has been widespread, then the health care personal show where protective equipment like masks, gowns, and gloves. The patient should also be asked is they had direct contact with the blood, urine, feces, saliva, or vomit of someone who was reported to have Ebola. Emory hospital in Atlanta, Georgia is the prime example of having protocols to contain possible Ebola patients that experts wish every hospital in a major city could follow. They have protocols that are as follows,

…the ambulance serving the isolation ward is specially equipped and sanitized after each use. Ambulance attendants wear one-piece hazmat suits so they can't absentmindedly scratch a nose. Similar suits garb the highly trained doctors and nurses who staff isolation rooms. Pressure and heat sterilize instruments, bedclothes—even feces and vomit. The air in each isolation room is vented from the hospital through dedicated ductwork (though Ebola does not spread through the air), and the water in the toilets is treated with disinfectant before it is flushed through the pipes. The infectious-disease unit maintains its own lab to eliminate risk of contamination, and the unit keeps its atmospheric pressure lower than that of the surrounding hospital so that air can't escape through an open door. Emory even has a protocol for donning and doffing gear: it uses the buddy system, with a medical worker standing watch for any possible breach (Von Drehle, David, et al). Such protocols would most certainly be enough to contain any outbreak in disease including Ebola, but when these protocols were introduced to hospital staff around the country, there was hesitation. They claimed that such protocols were terrific, but in reality, such protocols would bankrupt their hospital (Von Drehle, David, et al). The question then comes, so how do we protect ourselves against a possible outbreak in the U.S. when most hospitals don’t have the equipment necessary to securely contain Ebola and there isn’t currently a vaccine or cure? Since there isn’t a vaccine, doctors are forced to treat the symptoms rather than the virus itself (Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014)). Ebola experts are frustrated due to the lack of funding for an Ebola vaccine. They now hope that with the current public attention Ebola outbreaks have drawn, pharmaceutical companies will now turn their attention to creating a vaccine that will knock out Ebola at its source in Africa. Once a vaccination can be found, experts also hope that courageous health care individuals will be willing to travel to Ebola rampant areas to help halt the spread of Ebola to other areas. The Ebola viral disease is a deadly virus most commonly found in African countries in which outbreaks have occurred throughout history; but through careful procedures, and a change in current ideals, it can be contained and even prevented on a broader scale. Ebola is a deadly disease because it currently doesn’t have a vaccination or a cure (Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014)). It originates from Africa and is passed from animal hosts to humans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). While there are methods of containing the virus in hospitals, most facilities don’t have the funds to install such protocols. Instead, experts are hoping to educate health care personnel on how to distinguish Ebola symptoms from those of other virus’s such as the common flu, and that pharmaceutical companies will now turn their attention to finding a vaccine for Ebola. After such a vaccine can be found, the next step is to have brave health care personnel travel to countries where Ebola outbreaks are occurring and hopefully knock out Ebola at its source (Von Drehle, David, et al).

Works Cited
Dixon, Meredith G., and Ilana J. Schafer. "Ebola Viral Disease Outbreak -- West Africa,

2014.” MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 63.25 (2014): 548-

551. Academic Search Elite. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

"Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

"Ebola." Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia (2014): 1p. 1.Funk & Wagnalls

New World Encyclopedia. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.
Ghayourmanesh, Soraya, PhD, and H. Bradford, MD Hawley. "Ebola Virus." Magill’S Medical Guide (Online Edition) (2014): Research Starters. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

Park, Alice. "How U.S. Doctors Can Contain Ebola." Time.Com(2014): 1. Corporate

ResourceNet. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. SCHLANGER, ZOË, and ELIJAH WOLFSON. "Listening To Ebola."Newsweek Global 163.6 (2014): 12. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

Von Drehle, David, et al. "The New Ebola Protocols." Time 184.16 (2014): 20-23. Academic Search Elite. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

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