Where did Ebola Come From?

Although this is not the first time that the Ebola virus has managed to find its way through the shores of Africa, its latest development has been nothing less than alarming. As is stands right now a handful of West African countries have been affected, namely Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The Ebola scare is becoming very widespread.

Photo Credit: cdc.gov

Photo Credit: cdc.gov

It is believed that the virus emerged for the first time back in 1976, in Sudan and Zaire. The virus is named after the Zaire river Ebola. The very first outbreak is thought to have infected around 284 people with a mortality rate of 53%. The Ebola scare’s second emergence was reported in Yambuku, Zaire. The Ebola-Zaire (EBOZ) virus recorded the highest rate of mortality of any Ebola virus (88%) when it infected 318 people. Then came the third strain of the virus, Ebola Reston (EBOR), which was identified in 1989 when it infected some monkeys in Reston, Virginia, from Mindanao in the Philippines. Now Ebola has managed to find its way to the annals of West Africa. The 2014 Ebola scare outbreak has become a major threat not only to Africa, but to the whole World as well.

As the Ebola epidemic frenzies, two questions have emerged: How did this virus managed to escape detection for three whole months? And why do the global interventions fail to contain it?

In Guinea, the case first started in the small village of Meliandou, located in the Forest region of the southern parts of the country. Bush meat has been a long source of food for the village and they had it in bounty. But in the dying days of last December, the ordinary life in the village came to an end when the Ebola virus arrived in the village most likely carried by fruit bats, its natural non-human reservoir, according to the consensus among scientists around the world. The Ebola scare is one of the lethal viruses known to the world, with no specific cure has been found yet and the mortality rate is up to 90% of the affected.

Photo Credit: European Commission DG ECHO

Photo Credit: European Commission DG ECHO

But the mystery of the hour is not how the epidemic began; it is rather why an unwavering attempt by an army of global connoisseurs is being ineffective. Part of the answer is the chameleon-like behaviour of the virus in this part of the world. An even larger part is the global response itself. It was very swift and comprehensive; just as you would expect. But in the end there was a bewildering reaction that enervated everything that the experts wanted to achieve; and in the meantime hoodwinked many of them into believing that they had prospered in their goals. In the end they saw the truth, but by then it was already too late.

Jeffrey E. Stern has reported that the outbreak started when a bunch of tiny rod-shaped particles, each merely an attack plan that is coded in ribonucleic acid and wrapped in a protein shell, found their way from a fruit bat to the body of a child merely two years of age. Maybe, while the mother was preparing the day’s hunt, some of the fruit bat’s blood got in the child’s way. Perhaps, while the mother had her attention elsewhere, the child managed to touch the animal and as babies tend to do, gobbled its hand. No matter how it went, a few of the Ebola scare attached themselves to the cells of the child’s immune system and used the cells’ machinery to replicate themselves. The boy then developed a fever, followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. One by one, his organs began to fail. He then began bleeding internally and fell into septic shock. In no more than 4 days after the Ebola scare got into him, he was dead.

Until 2014, 280 people had died in the deadliest recorded Ebola outbreak. During the writing of this article, 3,091 have already died from the Ebola scare outbreak in West Africa, out of 6,574 confirmed cases, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO). When Ebola strikes, it kills quickly, but it can take up to three whole weeks to incubate, although in most cases it takes only 10 days.

Photo Credit: Global Panorama/standbytaskforce1

Photo Credit: Global Panorama/standbytaskforce1

How can you get infected? By direct contact with:

The body fluids of an already sick person, no matter if they are alive or dead. Body fluids include everything from blood, sweat and semen to vomit, pee, and poop.

An object that is contaminated with the virus, like a needle or other medical equipment.

Infected animal, by contacting its blood, fluids or meat.

The early symptoms of the Ebola scare include: fever, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising muscle pain. The virus can only be spread to others after the symptoms have begun to show.

It has also been reported that the virus cannot be detected in the blood unless the symptoms have started. An epidemic can go on for weeks without being noticed. This means that one can be a carrier of the virus, and still go on undetected.

Although a few years back, the Ebola scare fell in its tracks, this time it has managed to gain momentum elsewhere, spreading throughout whole forests and venturing more and more dangerously close to international borders. For the moment, there is no effective drug that is seen as a cure for the Ebola scare, even though there have been a couple of experimental drugs which are said to be effective in their own way. Until a cure has been found, we have to do everything in our power not to get infected.

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