Q:What is Ebola Virus Disease or EVD?
Ebola Virus Disease is a rare, severe and a rather deadly disease that affects humans and some animals like Monkeys, Chimps and Gorillas. It is also know as Ebola hemorrhagic fever disease as the infection is accompanied by haemorrhaging (bleeding) in the body.
Q:What causes EVD?
EVD is caused by infection with a virus called Ebola. Out of the 5 known species of Ebola, 4 are known to have caused disease in humans.
Q:Where did the Ebola virus come from?
Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976(near the Ebola River) in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
Q:Where does EVD usually occur?
Ebola usually is prevalent in West African countries. Confirmed cases have been reported from Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Gabon, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
Q:What is the spread of the current Outbreak?
The current Ebola virus outbreak is centered on three countries in West Africa: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
It started in December 2013 from Guinea and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Very small outbreaks also occurred in Nigeria(20 cases) and Senegal(1 case), both countries were later declared disease free on 20th Oct 2014. Cases of secondary infections of medical workers also occurred in US and Spain. And a single case also got reported in Mali.
Q:What is the source of infection of Ebola virus?
The natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are most likely the host of Ebola Virus.
Q:How is Ebola transmitted?
In Africa, fruit bats are considered to be the natural hosts of the Ebola virus. It is transmitted to humans through the close contact with the blood secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, and fruit bats etc., which are hunted for their meat.
Q:How is Ebola transferred human to human?
- Ebola is spread by direct contact with blood or other body fluids (such as: vomit, diarrhea, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen) of an infected person who has symptoms of Ebola or who has recently died from Ebola.
- It can also be spread on objects or surfaces contaminated by body fluids of an infected person, for example clothing or bedding of an ill person that have not been cleaned.
Q:What are the Symptoms of EVD?
It can take from 2 to 21 days, but usually 8 to 10 days, after infection for signs of Ebola to appear. Symptoms can seem like the flu at first — sudden fever, feeling tired, muscle pains, headache, and sore throat.
As the disease gets worse, it causes vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and bruising or bleeding without an injury, like from the eyes or gums.
Q:Can the Ebola virus mutate and become airborne?
The virus is constantly mutating, but the mutation rate is extremely slow. It’s very unlikely, based on the type of virus, that Ebola would become airborne.
Q:Is Ebola virus disease air –borne, food-borne or water-borne?
Ebola is not air, water or food borne.
Airborne transmission means germs hang in the air after a person talks, coughs or sneezes. The germs in the air can cause disease long after the infected person has left a room, so direct contact is not needed for someone else to get sick. This is not the case with Ebola.
Airborne diseases include: chickenpox, tuberculosis and measles.
Q:Can someone with Ebola spread the virus if they don’t have symptoms of illness?
No. A non-symptomatic person with Ebola can’t spread the disease until symptoms appear.
Q:How long is someone who has Ebola considered contagious?
- A person with Ebola is considered contagious as long as the virus can be detected in their blood.
- A special blood test called PCR must be negative on 2 consecutive days for someone to be considered non-contagious. An Ebola survivor will be considered non-contagious and ready for discharge when they meet that criteria.
- Corpses are highly contagious.
Q:How long can Ebola live outside the body?
- The length of time Ebola can live on surfaces or objects depends on several factors including temperature, humidity, and presence of body fluids.
- Ebola virus on dried surfaces, such as doorknobs or countertops, can live for several hours; however, virus in blood or other body fluids can live up to several days at room temperature.
Q:Can insects spread Ebola?
There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can spread Ebola. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola.
Q:Can you get Ebola from pets?
At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals.
Q:Who is most at risk of contracting Ebola?
During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are:
- Health workers;
- Family members or others in close contact with infected people;
- Mourners who have direct contact with the bodies of the deceased as part of burial ceremonies.
Q:When should one seek medical help?
If a person has been in an area known to have Ebola virus disease or in contact with a person known or suspected to have Ebola and they begin to have symptoms, they should seek medical care immediately.
Any cases of persons who are suspected to have the disease should be reported to the nearest health unit without delay. Prompt medical care is essential to improving the rate of survival from the disease. It is also important to control spread of the disease and infection control procedures need to be started immediately.
Q:How is Ebola Diagnosed?
Diagnosing Ebola in an individual who has been infected for only a few days is difficult because the early symptoms, such as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola virus infection and are seen often in patients with more common diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever.
However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and there is reason to believe that Ebola should be considered, the patient should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Samples from the patient can then be collected and tested to confirm infection.
Ebola virus is detected in blood only after onset of symptoms, most notably fever, which accompany the rise in circulating virus within the patient’s body. It may take up to three days after symptoms start for the virus to reach delectable levels.
Q:What is the treatment for Ebola?
There is no specific treatment for Ebola; instead, the symptoms are treated as they appear. Also, currently there is no FDA approved vaccine available for Ebola.
The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
- providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
- Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
- treating other infections if they occur
Q:How can Ebola be prevented?
If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:
- Practice careful hygiene – For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
- Avoid facilities in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
- After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Practice proper infection control and sterilization measures.
- Isolate patients with Ebola from other patients.
- Avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola.
- Notify health officials if you have had direct contact with the blood or body fluids, such as but not limited to, feces, saliva, urine, vomit, and semen of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Healthcare workers who may be exposed to people with Ebola should follow these steps: