21 Facts about the Deadly Ebola Virus

First there’s the MERS virus then the wildfire-spread Polio virus. Now here comes Ebola. What may have started as a simple and contained medical scare is now making it’s way around the world.

This article doesn not intend to spread fear but rather to spread awareness and knowledge.

Fact 1 Ebolavirus Kills

ebolaEbolavirus has affected more than a thousand people across Central and West Africa and has raised the death toll to more than 800. Photo: European Commission DG ECHO

Ebolavirus kills. That’s the first thing that should be ingrained in the mind of travelers who think that they aren’t susceptible to it. Recently, a top doctor from Sierra Leone who was advocating against Ebolavirus and was exposed to his patients died from the virus. Sheik Umar Khan was the only specialist of viral hemorrhagic fever in the country and his death became a great loss to the fight of the condition.

On August 3rd this year, the death toll rose to 826 and is expected to climb. This is twice the number taken by the previous epidemic.

Fact 2 First outbreak was recorded in 1976

Maburg and EbolaEbolavirus in its discovery in 2006 was first mistaken to be of Marburg virus strain due to its gigantic worm-like structure which is too big for a virus size standard.  Photo: Microbe World and Global Panorama

In 1976, a Belgian Scientist was sent to investigate the reason of a terrifying disease that was killing many people in the country of Congo or Zaire as it was known then. That was the time when the mysterious strain has been identified and named Ebolavirus.

Zaire had a reported 318 people affected, 218 of which died. Sudan had 284 cases and 151 lead to death. In 1979, a recurrent outbreak affected 34. In 1995 Zaire, Now Congo, had another outbreak that affected 315 and killed 250. Uganda back in 200-2001 had another epidemic with 425 cases that killed 224 people.

Fact 3 Ebolavirus is carried by body fluids

When a person is in direct contact with a person infected with ebolavirus, then chances of acquiring the virus itself are increased. The virus is transmitted through body fluids like blood, saliva and semen.

Fact 4 Ebolavirus spreads from person to person

A virus can spread in a community once an infected human communicates closely with another human. It can be through broken skin, membranes or kissing. Or, one person may also acquire it when he or she is in contact with a surface or environment that is contaminated with the fluid from a person who has shown symptoms.

A male who fully recovered from the condition can still be a carrier of the virus for up to seven weeks after recovery through his semen. Ebolavirus isn’t airborne.

Fact 5 Ebolavirus exhibits different symptoms such as fever, vomiting and more

The symptoms of Ebolavirus contamination may not show up at first contact. Rather, symptoms will only appear 21 days after infection. then symptoms below will start to make a person suffer:

  1. Fever
  2. Muscle ains
  3. Vomiting
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Strength weakening
  6. Organ shut down (kidney and liver)
  7. Internal and external bleeding (it will ooze from external openings such eyes, ears, rectum of the patient)

Fact 6 Current outbreak now affects more than 1000 peoplecatsGraph: Mirror

Fact 7 Ebolavirus is said to come from bats

Ebolavirus is carried by bats. Bats though are often not affected by the virus. This is often transmitted to humans if they eat Fruit bats and other bush meats. People who were affected may go on without knowing they’ve been infected. Then later on, when symptoms occur, they will start spreading the virus through people around them. Epidemic starts to happen.

Fact 8 Ebolavirus has five known virus strains

There are five known type of Ebolavirus strains. These include:

  • Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
  • Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
  • Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV)
  • Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
  • Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)

Each are distinct in their own way. The BDBV, EBOV and SUDV caused large outbreaks in Africa. RESTV was reported to have affected several people in the Philippines and in China.

Fact 9 Ebolavirus is named after a river

The word “Ebola” is taken form the Ebola River in Zaire where it was first discovered. The first outbreak happened in Yambuku in Zaire, a village that is found near the Ebola River.

According to the naming rules of taxonomy, Ebolavirus should always be capitalized and italicized. It should also never be abbreviated.

Fact 10 Outbreaks currently occurring in Central and West Africa

ebola_map_fpPhoto: IBTimes

Fact 11 Ebolavirus has affected countries outside Africa

One possible case of Ebolavirus was found in a woman in China who is currently being treated in a hospital in Hong Kong and was said to be exhibiting all symptoms. It’s one of the first cases of Ebolavirus outside Africa.

USA back in 1989 had the REBOV strain when it imported monkeys from the Philippines and another 4 cases of asymptomatic nature in 1990. In the Philippines in 1991, 3 cases were recorded and were said to be contracted from monkeys. Italy also had the REBOV strain in 1992 but no humans were affected.

Fact 12 Ebolavirus can be hard to diagnose at first

Ebolavirus may first disguise itself in the form of common cold symptoms. This makes it very hard for unsuspecting people to realize that they contracted a deadly virus, until their immune system start to weaken and attack their body.

Early diagnosis is often not feasible. Even early symptoms such as skin rash and red eyes may only be attributed to flu, Malaria or typhoid fever.

Fact 13 Current Ebolavirus outbreak spreading faster than usual


Graph: ScienceBlogs

Fact 14 Ebolavirus can’t be cured

Ebolavirus is one of the dealiest viruses known to man. It’s cure hasnt been found yet. It also has no vaccine and kills about 90% of it’s patients

Fact 15 People survive from Ebolavirus

In Uganda, CDC or Center for Disease Control cited a 50% survival rate.The government is said to play a big role in keeping the numbers down. Aside from this, there are many who survived the wrath of the virus and lived to tell their journey.

Many attributed survival in early interventions while some started developing stronger antibodies from medical attentions given.

Fact 16 Ebolavirus isn’t infectious unless the affected person starts getting sick

Unless one is exhibiting the Ebolavirus symptoms, then there’s no need to fear becasues one can only be contagious when they start getting sick.

Fact 17 Incubation period 2-21 days in the victim

Fact 18 The family virus of Ebolavirus were ancient according to a theory

Ebolavirus was discovered in 1976 but it has existed for a long time. According to  an American scientist, Patrick Olson, Ebolavirus was the cause of the death of 300,000 Greeks during the Peloponnesian War 431 to 421 BC.

The symptoms of the mystery killer were similar to that of Ebolavirus as was sited by Thucydides in his writings. Pericles, the Greek politician, died from the infection while Thucydides luckily survived to tell the story.

Peloponnesian War (431-421 BC)

Fact 19 A dead person infected can still spread the disease

Apparently the virus inside the person’s body still thrives. Once people get in contact with the dead person’s fluid, then the virus will spread as well. This is just one of the reasons why those who handle the dead are advised to use protective equipment.

The person who died from Ebola should be buried immediately with all their belongings burned or buried with them.

Fact 20 Hydration and anti-coagulant medications can help prevent symptoms

Those who are diagnosed to be exhibiting symptoms are put in intensive care. Usually, patients are hydrated and put onto IV. Also, patients are given anticoagulants to stop blood clot formation. Other medications for patients includes pain meds and drugs to combat internal hemorrhaging.

Fact 21 Ebolavirus can be avoided and prevented

There is no vaccine to combat Ebolavirus, however, for those who are in high risk of contracting it, there are several ways to prevent it:

  1. Postpone travel in high risk countries
  2. Wear masks and protective clothing when exposed to high risk environments
  3. When travel or assimilation in crowds is unavoidable, wear masks and always wash after
  4. Bring sanitizer always with you if washing isn’t feasible
  5. Disinfect places where a suspected person with the infection has been
  6. When you think you’ve come in contact with people infected by the virus, isolate self and ask for medical help

featured image: JOSEPH MANCY


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