What is the Ebola virus all about?

The deadly Ebola virus has claimed more than 700 people who have died of the deadly virus  and infected close to 1300 people that has spread across the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Now whether other countries could also be infected because of this deadly virus is yet to be seen as it spread only through certain conditions Ebola is not known to infect people through the air -- you must come into contact with the virus somehow in order to be at risk for infection, It is transmitted through exposure to an animal that carries the virus (such as a bat or primate), through exposure to the bodily fluids of a human who is infected and symptomatic, and through exposure to items that have been contaminated with the virus. People who are "providing care for a household member ... when they're cleaning up vomit or diarrhea, they come into contact with the virus, and the way it's transmitted is there's virus in the fluids," she said. "That virus gets into your own body through the nose, mouth and such. Ebola can also survive outside the host for a significant period of time -- as long as a couple of days -- at room temperature.

What happens to a person infected?

Once the Ebola virus makes its way into the body, it gets in the body's cells and replicates itself. Then it comes bursting out of our cells and produces this protein that wreaks havoc. The protein is called ebolavirus glycoprotein, and 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. Even people who don't show hemorrhagic symptoms will experience this leaking of blood from the vessels -- which can eventually lead to shock and, ultimately, death. Patients infected with Ebola experience sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. As the disease progresses, it can cause kidney and liver failure as well as internal bleeding.

Treatment for Ebola

In the four decades since the Ebola virus was first identified in Africa, treatment hasn't changed much. There are no licensed drugs or vaccines for the deadly disease. Without a specific treatment, doctors and nurses focus on easing the disease's symptoms — fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea — and on keeping patients hydrated and comfortable.

For one thing, the Ebola virus is hard to work with. The virus doesn't grow well in petri dishes and experiments can only be done in the relatively few labs with the highest security measures. There are about a half dozen Ebola drugs and vaccines in development, several of which have received funding from the U.S. One drug developed by the U.S. Army has shown promising results when tested in monkeys. While animal studies for vaccine candidates have been encouraging, it's unclear what dose humans would need.
Sources: Wikipiedia, Huffington Post, Kansascity.com

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