Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Also called as Ebola virus infection, viral hemorrhagic fever.
A virus of the family Filoviridae, morphologically similar to but antigenically distinct from Marburg virus; the cause of Ebola fever.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe and often deadly illness that can occur in humans and in primates monkeys and gorillas.
Ebola virus disease and other viral hemorrhagic fevers do not occur when standard infection control measure are used. Further epidemics will occur in third-world countries as long as poverty and ignorance lead to unsound health care practices, but the disease poses no risk of epidemic spread in developed countries.
Transmission is parenteral, not oral, sexual, or by inhalation. After an incubation period of about 1 week, disease comes on acutely with fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, and a maculopapular rash. Gastrointestinal bleeding and other hemorrhagic manifestations, including disseminated intravascular coagulation, appear in a high percentage of cases and often prove fatal. The case fatality rate approximates 80%.
Among humans, the virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected body fluids such as blood. The cause of the index case is unknown.
The incubation period of Ebola haemorrhagic fever varies from two days to four weeks.
Symptoms are variable, but the onset is usually sudden and characterised by high fever, prostration, myalgia, arthralgia, abdominal pains and headache. These symptoms progress to vomiting, diarrhea, oropharyngeal lesions, conjunctivitis, organ damage (notably the kidney and liver) by co-localized necrosis, proteinuria, and bleeding both internal and external, commonly through the gastrointestinal tract. Death or recovery to convalescence occurs within six to ten days.
Diagnosis and Tests:
Tests used to diagnose Ebola fever include:
The patient is usually hospitalized and will most likely need intensive care. Supportive measures for shock include medications and fluids given through a vein. Bleeding problems may require transfusions of platelets or fresh blood. A vaccine is in the developmental stages.
Preventive measures: Avoid areas in which there are epidemics. Wear a gown, gloves, and mask around sick patients. These precautions will greatly decrease the risk of transmission.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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