In 1976, strains of the Ebola virus were first detected. It causes a particular fever in the higher primates. The virus was found in Zaire, near the Ebola River, which gave him the name. A high level of mortality caused a real panic in Central Africa, especially in the Congo. But until recently, the incidents were local.
And only in 2014 the outbreak attracted the attention of the world community. The virus struck more than 1,700 people, 900 of them died. It’s frightening, not even how high the mortality rate is, but how little we know about this unusual disease. The main facts about him we will try to state.
Flash in 2014.
As of the beginning of August 2014, the World Health Organization found that 932 people died from hemorrhagic fever in just two summer months. For our world, in which several billion people live, this number may seem insignificant. But it is worthwhile to understand that some small African settlements suffered particularly badly. The first resident of Nigeria, who died from a terrible virus, was a nurse in Lagos. She died on August 5th. The news was shocking, because the capital of the country is the most densely populated city on the continent. Here, according to some estimates, up to 21 million people are crowded. Nigeria threw all the forces to resist the spread of the deadly virus. But new cases of the disease appear regularly, so how successful a fight will be and how much a person will die will remain a mystery. In 2014, an outbreak of the disease was noted in Guinea, where the Ministry of Health registered dozens of cases by March 24, 2014. It took several months for the virus to cross the border and to appear in neighboring countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention even recommended that you refrain from traveling to countries affected by the virus.
The appearance of the virus in America.
The news about the outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in 2014 in the West was apprehended with caution, but did not cause much concern. And the fever itself was already manifested from time to time for 30 years, that it is known. But there were no significant consequences of the reports. But when it was officially announced that the infected American doctor Kent Brantley would be brought to his home, panic began in the US. Journalists saw an excuse for mass hysteria, exacerbating the situation. The 33-year-old doctor was brought from Liberia by air ambulance. His arrival in America took place on August 2, 2014. The patient was immediately placed in a hospital at Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. This institution is equipped with a high-tech and bio isolation block to care for the patient. Here the ultraviolet shines and the air is carefully filtered. Those who are still afraid of the release of the virus Ebola outside, do not be afraid. Epidemiologists believe that outbreaks in the US could not have taken place. The fact is that in developing countries the cultural traditions are such that the family and friends take care of the sick, they also prepare the bodies for further burial. In developed countries, the approach to the virus problem is completely different. Here, the health authorities quickly identify infected individuals and isolate them from society, preventing the spread of the disease.
Detection of the virus.
The outbreak of fever was first recorded in 1976 in Zaire. Now this country is called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Immediately the epidemic spread to Sudan. When a mysterious ailment began to amaze the inhabitants of Zaire, the personal doctor of the president of the country, William Close, summoned experts from the Belgian Institute of Tropical Medicine. Specialists have concentrated research in the village of Yambuku, where the first known case of infection occurred. The victim was the director of the local school, Mabalo Lokela. The virus quickly spread through the village. The Belgians gave the new disease the name Ebola, by the name of the neighboring river. It was decided not to brand the village with fame.No one can say with certainty that the virus did not infect people even earlier. Some say that it was he who was to blame for the Athenian plague that came to the countries of the Mediterranean during the Peloponnesian War as early as 430 BC. The historian Thucydides, who himself contracted this disease, but managed to survive, told that the plague was brought by the Athenian sailors from Africa. Only indirect evidence of the epidemic remained. But the descriptions of it, the prevalence among caring people, symptoms in the form of bleeding, quite admit that the culprit of the plague was precisely the Ebola fever.
Accident in the laboratory of Porton Down.
There are many fans of conspiracy theories. According to the opinion of such people there are secret government research centers where the authorities plant monsters or create deadly biological substances. But in this case, the truth was similar to this theory. In English, Porton Down is the Research Center for Applied Microbiology. There are studies of Ebola fever. This laboratory was given the fourth category of safety. There is a shower system for sterilizing researchers before they go outside. Bulletproof glass ensures that the virus does not leave the laboratory. And if there is any accident, even if the suit or glove is broken, then an alarm will sound immediately. Such rules of work have existed for decades, since the discovery of the Ebola virus in 1976. Nobody really knew what was expected of him and what to fear. And on November 5, 1976, one researcher accidentally pricked his finger with a syringe when working with laboratory animals. A few days later the scientist fell ill. He was able to leave his biological fluids and initial data on the virus and the course of the disease, the symptoms observed. Fortunately, the researcher was lucky, and he managed to survive.
The spread of sexually.
The first 7-10 days after the onset of symptoms of Ebola fever are very important. It is during this period that most of the victims of the virus die. But if a person’s body can produce enough antibodies, then recovery is possible. But even a pure blood test can not detect a virus that is hiding in the body with the help of strange methods. For example, the disease can be transmitted in the breast milk of nursing women. The virus can be in semen for three more months. Antibodies produced by blood do not reach the testes. This is why it is strongly recommended that men who have had Ebola fever practice safe sex and use condoms. The researcher, infected in Port Down, had a virus in his seminal fluid, even two months after recovery. However, experts believe that the probability of catching a fever virus with the help of sexual contact is small. First of all, because hardly anyone who has departed from the disease does not particularly want to have sex – the body is already weakened. More likely another way of transmission of infection, quite unpleasant. In Africa, there is a long tradition of washing bodies before burial. It turns out that the virus thrives not only in living bodies, but also exists for several days in the dead. This was “told” the corpses of monkeys.
Impact on the world of wild animals.
Those viruses that kill their victims in a matter of days scare people. But insidiousness is worth looking for in this. A quick death is terrible, but it does not allow the disease to spread swiftly. As a result, such viruses as Ebola fever, usually quickly “burn out”, not having time to escape from its original source. Other viruses, like HIV, appear slowly, which allows them to spread all over the world. Scientists believe that there is a reason why Ebola’s fever has not gone into oblivion, but manifests itself from time to time. The virus acquired a repository in a population of bats in Central and West Africa. Now these creatures are spreading fever, how rabies are tolerated elsewhere in the world.Carnivorous bats are asymptomatic carriers. They transmit the virus to small antelopes, dukers, and such primates as gorillas and chimpanzees. In advanced countries, these bats quickly die, which ends the story of the spread of the virus. Today, in many African countries south of the Sahara, wild meat is sold. They are hunted, and such a product is in demand, when more traditional and tasty options are not available. This meat can belong to any kind of animals, including bats, rats and monkeys. For a civilized person, this sounds disgusting, but is it better to die by starvation? And to start the epidemic in 2014, it was enough just to have someone eat the meat of one infected animal.
Death from Ebola fever.
Although the plague is localized, hospitals around the world are ready to accept people with symptoms of Ebola fever. But only in the early stages of the symptoms are so common and common that they are simply misdiagnosed or completely ignored. It seems that the person just caught a cold: headache, throat, temperature rises, fatigue, body aches. Usually everything goes in a few days and few people will run with such symptoms to the nearest hospital department. But soon everything becomes more serious. In the stomach, bubbling begins, which turns into pain, diarrhea and vomiting. By the next stage the person becomes exhausted, and the virus uses this and beats all the important functions of the body. This stage is the most horrible, because the hemorrhagic element of the disease becomes noticeable. Internal bleeding is formed, blisters appear on the skin, blood begins to flow from the ears and eyes. Death comes as a result of various complications. This is cramps, organ failure and low blood pressure. And there are several factors that determine the mortality rate, one of the main is the specific strain of the virus. In 2014, the mortality rate fluctuated at around 60 percent.
More recently, fever has spread from animal carriers, infecting a bunch of people in the countryside, and then fading. The danger was seriously discussed except in thrillers, for example, “Epidemic” in 1995. The plot of this film unfolds around some fictitious form of the disease. But in the West, no one paid much attention to what is happening in Africa. It was simply not profitable to develop the same vaccine or medicine for pharmaceutical giants. And although there was no commercial potential in this matter, the governments of different countries seriously considered this disease. Millions of dollars were spent on the study of Ebola’s fever and the search for a vaccine. There was a fear that the virus could be used by someone as a biological weapon. There were experimental vaccines, which seemed very promising. One of them completely blocked the infection of rhesus monkey with the strain of Zaire. Namely, he was the cause of the epidemic in 2014. The vaccine was so effective that it could even cure four infected monkeys. It remains only to interest private companies in creating a mass solution.
Transmission of the virus.
It is not known exactly how the Ebola virus is transmitted. Most experts believe that this happens from person to person in the exchange of body fluids. But there are variants of the fact that the virus is transmitted aerobically from pigs to other species. It seems simple to protect yourself from the virus, you just need to limit the transmission of liquids. But the danger of the disease is underestimated by those who did not see its devastating effects personally. A lot of fluid flows out of the body of the patient with a fever, in the latter stages the blood can ooze out altogether from all the holes. Given that a doctor or a nurse in a poor infrastructure of hospitals in Central and West Africa, are sometimes forced to visit dozens of patients at times, it is not surprising that the virus is transmitted to doctors.
Until recently, no one knew how to deal with the Ebola virus. The patients were simply supported in their own struggle for life. People were given fluids and electrolytes, maintaining the necessary level in the body. Patients received painkillers, antipyretic drugs and antibiotics. This allowed to reduce concomitant complications and to save the immune system for fighting the main virus. The rest depended on the health of the person and the variety of the strain. But the first American victims, Kent Brantley and Nancy Reithball, were able to get an experimental medicine. The first began to be treated at an early stage. Brantley received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy, whom he treated and who had already recovered from the virus. Patients also received serum, which was first obtained by biopharmaceutical company Mapp Biopharmaceutical from San Diego. This medicine was obtained from the antibodies of animals subjected to a fever. Serum allowed to improve the endurance of the immune system. They say that with her help the patients managed to improve their condition. Other pharmaceutical giants, such as the Canadian “Tekmira Pharmaceuticals” and “MediVector”, also quickly started developing a vaccine against the Ebola virus. Procrastination this time can be expensive.