Ebola is the name of a group of viruses belonging to the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, and for the disease that these viruses cause, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. Ebola, and its close relative Marburg are unique in the microbiological world in that they are the only viruses that are long and stretched, resembling pieces of string or as "spaghetti that had spilled onto the floor," as stated by author Richard Preston of the non-fictional book "The Hot Zone." that a sample of Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus resembles spaghetti that had spilled onto the floor. However, like a majority of viruses that affects humans, the Ebola Virus is composed of a coiled strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA) surrounded by a protein encasing covered with protein spikes; four of the proteins that make up Ebola's envelope are vaguely understood by scientists in their main function other than the fact that these proteins help break down the structural proteins in the human body. Ebola is a zoonotic virus and disease it comes straight from animals. Because of this fact, each index case in each outbreak is somehow linked to exposure to an infected animal, many times, an ape or monkey. Thus, the virus has a special affinity to primates, and scientists are not sure at the moment of what animal serves as the host or are involved in the life cycle of the virus.
Ebola is named after the Ebola River in the African nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the villages where the first recognized outbreaks had occurred during 1976. There are at least five-known strains of Ebola: Sudan Ebolavirus, Zaïre Ebolavirus, Reston Ebolavirus, Ivory Coast Ebolavirus, and the recently discovered Bundibugyo Ebolavirus. The mortality rates for the Ebola virus varies with strain; patients suffering from Ebola Sudan has a mortality rate of 53%, and the most lethal being Ebola Zaire with a mortality rate of 90%. Ebola Reston, which is frighteningly similar to Ebola Zaire (to the point that virologists consider the two as "twin sister viruses"), has the same mortality rate towards non-human primates, but for some reason, infects humans, but not cause any serious life-threatening infection. Like Ebola Reston, Ebola Ivory Coast has in fact infected humans, but have not caused any lethal infection in humans. The newest strain, Ebola Bundibugyo, have been reported to have claimed the deaths of 29 people along with 113 cases in Uganda as recent as December 2007 (Reuters).
Most forms of Ebola are spread from direct contact of the blood, organs or semen of an infected. Rarely is Ebola able to be transmitted through the air, with the exception of Ebola Reston. Another mode of transmission of the virus are unhygienic hospital conditions that are prevalent throughout the affected areas of Africa, most commonly through the use of unsterilized syringes. As well, transmission have also occurred by the handling of the ill or the dead. The incubation period for Ebola is usually less than two weeks, and from the time the symptoms begin to appear to death or recovery is usually seven to ten days. Because Ebola is relatively new, and there hasn't been much research done on the virus, scientists are still yet to understand as to why some Ebola patients manage to survive and recover while others are unable to.
As a type of hemorrhagic fever, Ebola has a devastating effect on the human body. At first, a sudden set of flu-like symptoms appears in the infected, such as a severe headache, sore throat, muscle aches, and an intense debilitating weakness. These symptoms escalate to the onset of vomiting blood, intense abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, pharyngitis (inflamation of the throat), and conjunctivitis (inflamation of the mucous membranes in the eye). The final set of symptoms appear near a victim's final death, such as the destruction and liqueficaiton of vital organs, internal and external hemorrhaging from all orifices. The disease eventually progress to shock, respiratory...
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