Ebola is a serious, often fatal, disease. The virus is transmitted to people from animals and then spreads among humans through direct contact with an infected person.
The Ebola virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) in 1976 and can be found in various African countries. Periodic outbreaks have occurred since Ebola’s discovery, but the current west Africa outbreak that began in Guinea in March 2014 is the largest and deadliest in history.
The outbreak began in the densely populated border region between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia …
At first Belgian Nuns had unwittingly spread the virus. How did that happen?
In Belgium a lab team discovered Ebola just prior to 1976. The team discovered that mission hospitals regularly gave pregnant women vitamin injections using unsterilized needles. By doing so, they infected many young women in Yambuku with a then unknown virus. Scientist working with the World Health Organization or W.H.O “allegedly” told the nuns about the terrible mistake they had made, but in their own words they said that, ” we were much too careful in their choice of words (meaning they didn’t have a sense of urgency about the breakout).” In Africa the clinics that failed to observe this and other rules of hygiene functioned as catalysts in all additional Ebola outbreaks. They drastically sped up the spread of the virus or made the spread possible in the first place. Even in the current Ebola outbreak in west Africa, hospitals unfortunately played this ignominious role in the beginning. … also contributed to the catastrophe. In addition the people there have always been extremely mobile, so it was much more difficult than usual to track down those who had contact with the infected people. Because the dead in this region are traditionally buried in the towns and villages they were born in, there were highly contagious Ebola corpses travelling back and forth across the borders in pickups and taxis. The result was that the epidemic kept flaring up in different places.
It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae families were natural Ebola virus hosts with that in mind research showed Ebola was then introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of these infected animals the list also chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Was Ebola ever used as population curve!
Archival (WHO) World Health Organization documents were explored along with links to American health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Cancer Institute (NCI). These institutions played leading roles in the WHO’s early viral research network. During the 1960s and early 1970s the WHO served as the omnipotent supplier of the world’s pharmaceutical, bacteriological, and viral test reagents. Investigations revealed the NCI, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), functioned as the WHO’s chief distributor of viruses and viral testing reagents during the late 1960s. By 1968, the WHO had provided technical advisors and supplies of “prototype virus strains” for more than “120 laboratories in 35 different countries.” By 1969, this number increased to “592 virus laboratories.” In this one year, four of the most active centers, including the NCI and CDC, distributed 2,514 strains of viruses, 1888 ampoules of experimental vaccines, and about 100 samples of cell cultures throughout the network. 70,000 virus isolations were reported by 1970. To date there is no known proof that Ebola was spread, for means of population control. What is known is that the WHO did not react with a strong sense of urgency to combat this deadly virus.
Cold War, Biological Weapons and World Health
Ebola is not new. Nor is the possibility of terrorist or supremacy groups using the Ebola virus in an attack. As many may have guessed few to only one documented case of the disease listed for Biological weapons, was when the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo attempted to obtain the Ebola virus as part of its biological warfare program. The group sent a medical team to Africa under the pretext of being aid workers with the intent of obtaining samples of the virus. It failed in that mission, but even if it had succeeded, the group would have faced the challenge of getting the sample back to its biological warfare laboratory in Japan. The Ebola virus is relatively fragile. Its lifetime on dry surfaces outside of a host is only a couple of hours, and while some studies have shown that the virus can survive on surfaces for days when still in bodily fluids, this requires ideal conditions that would be difficult to replicate during transport.
During the past decade, at least six internationally known authorities advanced theories that the AIDS virus (HIV) was also developed by biological weapons researchers and either accidentally or intentionally transmitted with the help of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). A document like that obtained by one investigator, through the Freedom of Information Act, is shown with a DOD appropriations request for $10 million for the development of AIDS-like viruses. “Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.”
(In a previous interview with Peter Piot, was a young scientist in Antwerp, was part of the team that discovered the Ebola virus in 1976)
I still remember exactly. One day in September, a pilot from Sabena Airlines brought us a shiny blue Thermos and a letter from a doctor in Kinshasa in what was then Zaire. In the Thermos, he wrote, there was a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had recently fallen ill from a mysterious sickness in Yambuku, a remote village in the northern part of the country. He asked us to test the sample for yellow fever.
On that day our team sat together late into the night – we had also had a couple of drinks – discussing the question. We definitely didn’t want to name the new pathogen “Yambuku virus”, because that would have stigmatized the place forever. There was a map hanging on the wall and our American team leader suggested looking for the nearest river and giving the virus its name. It was the Ebola river. So by around three or four in the morning we had found a name. But the map was small and inexact. We only learned later that the nearest river was actually a different one. But Ebola is a nice name, isn’t it?
Yes, and our first thought was: “What the hell is that?” The virus that we had spent so much time searching for was very big, very long and worm-like. It had no similarities with yellow fever. Rather, it looked like the extremely dangerous Marburg virus which, like Ebola, causes a haemorrhagic fever. In the 1960s the virus killed several laboratory workers in Marburg, Germany.
Ebola Questions and Answers
Direct contact means that blood or body fluids from an infected person or body have touched another person’s eyes, nose or mouth or an open wound or abrasion. People can also become infected from contaminated surfaces and materials, including bed sheets and clothing. Body fluids include blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, faeces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine and semen.
Can you get Ebola from sneezing?
It is possible to spread through coughing or sneezing, but health officials say it’s unlikely. Saliva or mucus from an infected person would have to get into a healthy person’s eyes, nose, mouth or open wound for the disease to spread.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom is a high fever, typically greater than 101.5F (38.6C). Other symptoms can include severe headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and, in serious cases, internal or external bleeding. Symptoms of the virus appear between two and 21 days after exposure, but typically after eight to 10 days.
The Ebola virus has not previously mutated in this manner, and experts say there is no other virus that has transformed from non-airborne to airborne in human beings.
Is there a cure? What about a vaccine?
No, but the race is on to find both. An experimental Ebola drug, Zmapp, has been used to treat a handful of patients, including two American missionaries. It’s unclear without proper testing what role, if any, the drug played in the patients’ recovery.
A number of experimental drugs, including Zmapp, are being rushed into trials, but even so, experts say it could take months, even years, to produce enough of the drugs to make a difference in the current outbreak.
Human testing recently began on an Ebola vaccine, but it would only help protect people who haven’t yet contracted the virus, not those already infected.
At this time, the difference between life and death in an Ebola-stricken patient can come down to very basic interventions: keeping the person hydrated, maintaining their oxygen and blood pressure, and mitigating the effects of other infections that might further weaken the body’s immune system.
Why are people allowed to travel from infected areas to the US?
The White House is not entertaining the idea of a travel ban on flights coming from west Africa. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Tom Frieden, said isolating affected countries would only make the epidemic worse. He said it would constrict the flow of necessary aid to these counties, which would in turn make the outbreak that much more difficult to stop.
West African countries have put certain checks in place to try to prevent infected people from carrying the disease outside the affected region. In Liberia, for example, travelers answer a pre-flight questionnaire that asks about their Ebola exposure history. Before departure at many African airports, passengers are screened for fever. Many international airports around the world have quarantine areas in case a person becomes ill while travelling.
That being said, the approach isn’t foolproof as people don’t begin to show symptoms until days – even weeks – after being exposed. There is also a lot of misinformation circulating through west Africa about the disease, so people may not know if they were exposed, or may fear disclosing exposure because of the stigma attached to the disease.