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Ebola and the Recent Outbreak. By Our August Student Pharmacist, Eli Puckett.

The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has led me to decide to write a short summary about the virus.

The first Ebola virus outbreak occurred in 1976 and there were actually two separate outbreaks that year. One of the outbreaks was in Sudan and the other was in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreak that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo occurred near the Ebola river so this is where the name is derived from.

There are five different species of the Ebola virus: Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Reston ebolavirus (RESTV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), and Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV). BDBV, EBOV, and SUDV have all been the cause of outbreaks. TAFV and RESTV have not been known to cause outbreaks. The RESTV species has not been shown to cause illness in humans and the TAFV species has only been reported to cause illness in one person.

This recent outbreak is actually the twenty-fifth recorded outbreak.

The current outbreak has killed more people than any outbreak in history, but it has only killed 55% of the people infected, as opposed to some previous outbreaks that have killed up to 90% of the people infected.

There have been four countries affected by this current outbreak: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The outbreak has infected a total of 1848 people and killed 1013 people.

Humans were originally infected with the Ebola virus from animals that were infected and then the virus spread from person to person. The virus can be transmitted through blood, secretions, organs, and other bodily fluids of people that are infected. People working in the healthcare field and caring for those infected can often become infected, as is the case with the two American doctors who were infected during the recent outbreak.

The virus usually includes the symptoms of fever, severe weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat initially. These symptoms are commonly followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and diminished kidney and liver function.

The disease is contagious for as long as the virus is in the blood or secretions. The virus has been shown to last as long as 61 days in fluids. It can take anywhere from two to twenty-one days for symptoms to develop from the time that an individual contracts the disease. The symptoms are similar to the symptoms with many other diseases, so these diseases need to be ruled out before diagnosing Ebola. The Ebola diagnosis can then be confirmed by a variety of laboratory tests.

Unfortunately, at this time, there is no vaccine for Ebola and there is no treatment to cure the disease. Currently, those infected are treated with supportive care, which includes rehydration most of the time, due to the loss of fluids in many of the infected people.

The prevention of the spread of Ebola is done by making sure to handle animals that may carry the disease carefully and by cooking all meats thoroughly. People need to be careful in interacting with those people infected with the disease. They also need to avoid coming in contact with the bodily fluids of those who are infected.






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