General Science Bullet – The deadly Ebola outbreak – capsule 2

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General Knowledge is important for most competitive exams, namely the UPSC Civil Services Examination, SSC CGL, Bank PO & PSU entrance tests, etc. Therefore, an understanding of the concepts/terms are relevant to our daily lives is critical for aspirants. To make your preparation easier and to help you score better, we at PaGaLGuY bring you brief articles on trending phenomena and concepts.

We discussed the origin and history of the Ebola virus in the previous article. Thus, we will now talk about the symptoms of Ebola, its diagnosis, treatment options and prevention.

Symptoms of Ebola

  1. Fever
  2. Muscle Pain
  3. Headache
  4. Fatigue
  5. Diarrhoea
  6. Vomiting
  7. Unexplained haemorrhage
  8. Lack of appetite
  9. Sore throat

Diagnosis

1. The Ebola virus is difficult to detect in the initial days of infection since it has some non-specific symptoms like fever, which is common to other diseases like Malaria and Typhoid.

2. Ebola can only be detected in blood after the onset of symptoms (at least after three to four days of infection) like headache, diarrhoea and severe muscle pain.

3. Various laboratory diagnostic tests help to detect the virus in blood in the beginning like antigen capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Virus isolation, IgM ELISA.

4. PCR is believed to be the most reliable technique in detection of the viral material since it involves multiplication of the virus’s genetic material to detectable levels.

5. Blood tests may also show low white blood cell counts, low blood platelets and presence of higher levels of liver enzymes. In later stages of the infection, presence of IgM and IgG antibodies can be detected.

Treatment

1. At present, there is no vaccine or medicine to cure Ebola completely. The treatment of symptoms is done as they appear. Also, recovery depends on the patient’s immunity and supportive care provided.

2. Continuous monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate, replacing blood lost through bleeding, treatment of infections and maintaining a constant supply of fluids/electrolytes especially in patients experiencing severe diarrhoea and vomiting, are some measures that increase chances of survival.

3. Various vaccines and treatments are under development for curing Ebola completely. However, they have not been tested for safety and effectiveness.

Prevention of Ebola

  1. Increasing your personal hygiene helps a lot. Wash hands frequently with soap and water thoroughly or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid contact with body fluids of infected person like blood, body secretions (saliva, urine, faeces, breast milk, semen, vomit etc). Do not handle items that come in direct contact of the patient, like syringe, needle, bed sheets, clothing etc.
  3. Health professionals involved in the treatment of Ebola should wear protective clothing and avoid unprotected contact with patients.

Facts about Ebola

  1. Ebola is caused by an RNA virus.
  2. Incubation period for Ebola is 2 to 21 days.
  3. Ebola is NOT an airborne disease.
  4. Nigeria, Senegal and Liberia are declared ‘Ebola free’ after no new cases of Ebola infections being reported.
  5. The Zaire Ebolavirus is the virus strain responsible for the current outbreak and also is the most dangerous of the five strains.

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