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Ebola Assignment

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What is Ebola?

Ebola was first discovered in West Africa near the Ebola River. It is a severe, often fatal, disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. According to the World Health Organization, the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa (the largest outbreak to date) belongs to the Zaire species, one of three species that have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. Wikipedia defines a virus as “a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.” Once the Ebola virus makes its way into the body, it invades the body's cells and replicates itself. It then bursts out of the cells and produces a protein called ebolavirus glycoprotein. This protein attaches to the cells on the inside of the blood vessels. This increases permeability of the blood vessels, leading to blood leaking out of the vessels. The virus causes interference in the body's ability to coagulate and thicken a person’s blood.
Symptoms of this disease include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained hemorrhaging. These symptoms may appear anywhere between 2-21 days after exposure, but manifestation of symptoms usually averages around 8-10 days after exposure. Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected and symptomatic. Much of the public today is worried that a couple of healthcare workers presently diagnosed with Ebola may have infected others before developing a low-grade fever (one of the early symptoms), but those patients were not symptomatic at the time of concern, therefore transmission of the virus was not a possibility.
According to the CDC, healthcare providers of Ebola patients as well as family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they are in close contact with Ebola patients, and they may come in contact with the infected blood or bodily fluids of sick patients. Also, people who come in contact with infected wildlife may contact the virus. The origin of the Ebola virus is unknown, but based on the evidence and nature of similar viruses, researchers believe it originated from animals, most likely bats. Lastly, people can contract the virus by coming in contact with objects that have been contaminated by the virus (things that contain residual fluids from sick people/wildlife). The risk of transmission of the virus is viable only when the infected person is symptomatic. A person cannot infect others if they are not experiencing any of the symptoms previously listed.

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