Ebola is the virus Ebolavirus (EBOV), a viral genus, and the disease Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). The virus is named after the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), which is near the site of the first recognized outbreak in 1976 at a mission hospital run by Flemish nuns. It remained largely obscure until 1989 when several widely publicized outbreaks occurred among monkeys in the United States. The virus interferes with the endothelial cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels and with coagulation. As the blood vessel walls become damaged and destroyed, the platelets are unable to coagulate, patients succumb to hypovolemic shock. Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids, while conjunctiva exposure may also lead to transmission. There are five recognized species within the ebolavirus genus, which have a number of specific strains. The Zaire virus is the type species, which is also the first discovered and the most lethal. Electron micrographs show long filaments, characteristic of the Filoviridae viral family. Ebola Virus History
Ebola-Zaire, the first-discovered Ebola virus, is also the most deadly. At its worst, it has a ninety percent fatality rate. There have been more outbreaks of Ebola-Zaire than any other type of Ebola virus (³Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever²). The first outbreak took place in 1976 in Yambuku, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Mabelo Lokela checked into the local hospital with a fever. One of the nurses assumed Lokela had malaria and gave him a quinine shot. When Lokela returned home from the hospital and died, the women of his family conducted a traditional African funeral for him. In preparation for this funeral, they removed all the blood and excreta from his body with their bare hands. Most of the women in his family died soon afterwards (Draper 19). Meanwhile, the nurses at the hospital had an Ebola epidemic on their hands. The needle used for Lokela¹s quinine injection was inadequately sterilized, so Ebola had spread from patient to patient as the needles were reused. They called Dr. Ngoi Mushola, the area director, for help. He taught them how to sterilize their needles and purify water. He also told the nurses to instruct patients¹ families not to bury their dead inside or close to their homes as tradition dictated, since Ebola could spread from dead bodies. He also called authorities in Kinshasa, the nation¹s capital, for help. Kinshasa sent a microbiologist and an epidemiologist who performed autopsies on dead patients and collected samples. Soon afterwards, the entire area was quarantined, which soon brought the disease back under control. This quarantine simply meant that the area was isolated until every ill person died. Dr. Ngwete Kikhela, the Minister of Health in Kinshasa, then contacted the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for help. The CDC informed the international medical community about the epidemic (Draper 15-23). Ebola-Sudan
Meanwhile, another outbreak was occurring in the cities of Nzara and Maridi, Sudan. The first case that occurred in Nzara involved a worker who had been exposed to the potential natural reservoir at the local cotton factory. A natural reservoir is a carrier of the virus that is immune to its effects. Although many the creatures—ranging from spiders to insects to rats and bats—found in the factory were tested for Ebola, none of the tests came back testing positive (Draper 30-31). The natural reservoir for Ebola is still unknown today (³Fact Sheet No. 103²). Another case was the death of a nightclub owner in Nzara who could afford to go to the fancier hospital located in Maridi. Unfortunately, the nurses there also did not properly sterilize their needles, and the hospital, like the one in Yambuku, became a breeding ground for new Ebola cases (Draper 30-31). Several epidemics of Ebola-Zaire and Ebola-Sudan have...
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