The Ebola virus has remerged, this time in Democratic republic of Congo. According to WHO, more than 16 people have been confirmed dead in an area of North-western Democratic Republic of Congo and 393 people identified as contacts of Ebola patients are being followed up. In the pursuit to control this outbreak, WHO has authorized the use of an experimental vaccine in the region.
Ebola also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus of the family filoviridae . It has a case fatality rate of 50% in average, however, in the past outbreaks the case fatality have varied from 25% to 90% (WHO, 2018). The introduction of Ebola to human population came through close contact with secretions, blood, organs, and other bodily fluids of infected animals such as gorilla, chimpanzees, forest antelope, fruit bats, monkeys found dead or ill in the forest. This then spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contacts with secretion, blood, or other bodily fluids of infected persons and with materials and surfaces like clothing or bedding contaminated with these fluids.
The time interval from infection with the virus to the onset of symptoms (incubation period) is 2 to 21days. Symptoms includes: muscles pains, sudden onset of fever, fatigue, sore throats. This is usually followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, rash, internal and external bleeding in some cases.
A range of potential treatments including blood products, drug therapies and immune therapies are being currently evaluated. However, supportive care- rehydration with intravenous and oral fluids and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival (WHO, 2018).
There is as yet no proven treatment available for Ebola viral disease.
Prevention and control
Some of the measures that can be employed to prevent and control Ebola are:
- Practicing of careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with body fluids and blood (such as urine, faeces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids).
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s body fluids or blood (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
- Avoid burial rituals or funeral that requires handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals. Meats should be cooked properly before consumption.