Health
Ebola: profile of a prolific killer
Publish Date: May 27, 2014
Ebola: profile of a prolific killer
Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients at Kagadi Hospital. FILE PHOTO/Ismael Kasooha
  • mail
  • img
newvision

DAKAR - The Ebola virus now threatening Sierra Leone is one of the deadliest known to man, with more than 100 confirmed deaths from the disease in West Africa since January.

According to a May 23 statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 258 cases of viral haemorrhagic fever, of which 174 have resulted in deaths, have been reported in the Republic of Guinea.

Out of the 258 cases, the Guinean government has said that 146 were confirmed Ebola cases, 95 of them deadly.

Ebola has also been reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a total of 10 confirmed deaths, including one reported on Monday, out of more than a dozen cases.

The tropical virus can fell its victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea -- in some cases shutting down organs and causing unstoppable bleeding.


Dr. Byarugaba Baterana (center in white gown), the Executive Director Mulago Hospital, taking part of a team of health experts on a guided assessment tour of a gazetted Ebola center at Mulago Hospital in August 2012.
PHOTO/Godfrey Kimono

No medicine or vaccine exists for the virus, which is named after a small river in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since the first case of Ebola was identified 38 years ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire), the virus has killed around 1,400 people.

Experts say that although it is extremely virulent, the virus can be contained because it kills its victims faster than it can spread to new ones.

The incubation period between exposure and the first symptoms varies from two to 21 days.

There are five species of the virus, of which three are particularly dangerous with fatality rates from 25 to 90 percent, according to the WHO.

It is transmitted through contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.

The virus has been known to spread at burials where mourners touch the body, but doctors and nurses have also fallen ill after failing to take adequate precautions.

Even testing blood specimens for the disease presents "an extreme biohazard risk", states the WHO, and is done only in the strictest containment conditions.


Experts test for the Ebola virus in a then-newly upgraded state of the art laboratory at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe in 2012. FILE PHOTO/Mathias Mugisha

People have contracted the virus after handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines, dead or alive, in the Ivory Coast, Congo and Gabon.

The only approach for the moment is to isolate patients and promptly bury the dead, said the WHO.

Hospital staff should use gloves, masks and goggles, and disinfect religiously.

"Several potential vaccines are being tested but it could be several years before any is available," says a WHO factsheet.

"A new drug therapy has shown some promise in laboratory studies and is currently being evaluated."

The virus's natural reservoir animal, possibly the bat, is believed to reside in rain forests in Africa and areas of the Western Pacific.

AFP


Also related to this story

Uganda starts Ebola surveillance after outbreak in Guinea

Mali reports three suspected Ebola cases


Ebola claims 4 more at Kagadi, Mulago

Schools close over Ebola outbreak

Psychologists join Ebola team

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Students push for Tobacco Control Bill passing
Students from five universities are petitioning parliament to pass the tobacco control bill, arguing that it has stayed too long on the shelf....
Mulago Hospital improves patients’ diet
Uganda’s national referral health facility Mulago Hospital has made adjustments to the meals it serves its in-patients, with a special diet introduced....
Obama: Ebola crisis
President Barack Obama issues a global call to action to fight the Ebola epidemic, warning the deadly outbreak was "spiraling out of control"....
200 Ugandan patients for sickle cell drug trial
At least 200 patients are to take part in a clinical trial for a more effective drug used to treat sickle cell anaemia....
World lost
The EU urges the international community to make up for "precious time" lost in the response to the deadly Ebola outbreak....
Gov’t needs to ‘wake up’ over health system
The wife of the fallen water ministry director Frank Mugisha Shillingi calls on the government to consider restructuring the Ugandan health system....
Should bride price be made optional?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter