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Ebola Virus

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The Ebola Virus
Kimberly A. Murphy
SC246- Unit 7 Assignment
January 6, 2015
Professor Robert Black

The Ebola Virus
The Ebola virus which was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in Africa is a deadly and rare disease that is caused by an infection of one of any of the five known strains of the Ebola virus. The genus Ebolavirus belongs in the family Filoviridae, a group of several related viruses that form virions also known as filamentous infectious viral particles and encode their genome in a single stranded RNA. Filoviruses are the viruses responsible for causing viral hemorrhagic fevers. Symptoms of a viral hemorrhagic fever begin with fever and muscle aches. Four of these ebolavirus strains can cause the disease in humans and all five can cause disease in primates such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys (CDC, 2014). The strains have been named for the areas in Africa where they have been found and are as follows: Budibugyo ebolavirus, Reston ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, and the Zaire ebolavirus (WHO, 2014). The Zaire strain has the highest mortality rate and has been the cause of the most outbreaks. The Reston strain has been linked to causing EBV in other primates. Scientists believe the original virus originated from the African fruit bat.
The Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids or blood of an individual infected with the virus. Bodily fluids can include; blood, sweat, urine, saliva, and semen. The CDC reports that the Ebola virus can live in semen for a maximum of three months (CDC, 2014). Contraction of the virus can also come from the handling an animal that is carrying the virus. Contact can be made from person to person can be made via eyes, mouth, nose, and cuts on the skin. Needle sticks are also another way the virus can be spread from person to person, Healthcare workers are at high risk of contracting the virus so the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) is extremely important (Rachel Nall, 2014). PPE includes protective gowns, double gloves, and face masks with eye shields. Hospitals should also have proper protocols in effect for the disposal of PPE that has been worn in the presence of individuals that are showing active signs of the virus.
It should be noted that individuals can carry the virus but not be “sick” nor spread the virus to another individual. Symptoms normally begin within 21 days of being in contact with the virus. It is suggested that anyone who has been in contact with an individual known to have the active Ebola virus should isolate themselves for the 21 day incubation period, to lessen the chances of spreading the virus to others. The early and most notable signs of an active Ebola infection resemble flu like symptoms which can include fever, weakness, chills, and headache (CDC, 2014). Those who have a fever of 101.5 should seek immediate medical attention. As the disease begins to progress, the symptoms become worse and include nausea with vomiting, chest pain with coughing, stomach pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, bloodshot eyes, rash, severe and quick weight loss, bruising, bleeding from the orifices, one of the most common being the eyes, internal bleeding and decreased functioning of the kidneys and liver. Blood work on patients with an active infection of Ebola can show low white blood count, low platelet counts, and high liver enzymes. With the symptoms of the Ebola virus mimicking the flu two specific tests are used to diagnosis the disease. Blood is collected and the specimen is tested for immunoglobulin G antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (Pierre Formenty, 2006). It should be noted that the PCR can remain negative for up the three days while the patient has the onset of symptoms, this is another reason it is important to isolate patients until a diagnosis can be made.
As of today no antiviral medications have been found to successfully treat the Ebola virus, and without proper care, death can normally occur within 10 days. Once a diagnosis has been made supportive care of the patient includes: the maintenance of blood pressure, blood transfusions, fluid treatment, and the treatment of any additional conditions that may develop (Staff, 2014). This supportive care is not an assurance that the patient will survive. Death commonly occurs due to a significant drop in blood pressure which is a result from the damage the virus has done to the blood vessels and in combination of a massive blood loss (CDC, 2014). Death may also occur due to hypovolemic shock due to a massive blood loss and/or multiple organ failure.
Although scientist have not completely come to a conclusion on how the Ebola virus affects the human body they do know that the virus functions by attacking the vital organs, causing massive bleeding internally and externally. The virus is considered a systematic virus, which means that every organ and tissue in the human body is under a constant attack from the virus, the only body parts not affected from the virus are the skeletal muscles and bones. One theory that scientists have is that the particles of the virus may release proteins which attack and weaken the body’s immune system response consequently disabling the immune system’s ability to defend itself. It is understood that Ebola virus’s first offensive maneuver is to target the certain types of body’s immune cells which would normally be the first line of defense against illness. The proteins released from the virus attacks and infects the body’s immune system, specifically the dendritic cells which are responsible for the activation of the bodies T cells, the white blood cells the body uses to fight infections. In a healthy body the T cells would typically kill off the infected cells before they could spread and result in an infection (Gerard Tortora, 2013). Infecting the dendritic cells compromises them unable to activate the T cell bodies, which in turn causes the T cells unable to protect the body from the oncoming infection, and the virus can now proliferate in a very rapid manner. Another major feature in the Ebola virus’s system wide attack on the body is its capability to form blood clots. With the formation of small clots in the early stage of infection, the virus causes the patient’s blood to slowly thicken, consequentially creating a decrease in blood flow throughout the body. As these clots begin to get trapped in the blood vessels, the patient begins to demonstration signs externally on the body in the form of red spots on the skin. As the disease progresses, these clots and the red spots continue to increase in size. These clots as they grow in size, also present a more serious effect to the body by decreasing the blood supply to the many of the vital areas of the body such as the liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys (Staff, 2014).

References
CDC. (2014, December 8). About Ebola Virus. Retrieved from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/about.html
Gerard Tortora, C. C. (2013). Microbiology: An Introduction 11th Edition . Glenview: Pearson Education.
Pierre Formenty, E. M. (2006). Detection of Ebola Virus in Oral Fluid Specimens during Outbreaks of Ebola Virus Hemorrhagic Fever in the Republic of Congo. Oxford Journals, 1521-1526.
Rachel Nall, R. B. (2014, October 20). Ebola Virus and Disease. Retrieved from Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/ebola-hemorrhagic-fever#Overview1
Staff, M. C. (2014, August 6). Ebola Virus and Marburg Virus. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ebola-virus/basics/treatment/con-20031241
WHO. (2014, September). Ebola Virus Disease. Retrieved from World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/…...

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