Ebola Virus Current Affairs

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Scientists discover First Natural Human Antibodies against Ebola Virus

A team of scientists from the United States have discovered a possible cure for Ebola viruses. They have discovered the first natural human antibodies that are capable of neutralizing and protecting animals against all three major disease-causing ebola viruses. The findings could lead to the discovery of first effective ebolavirus therapies and vaccines. 

Scientists have discovered the broadly neutralizing antibodies from the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 Ebola outbreak. Scientists have also pinpointed the human gene which is expected to be the source of the immune cells that produce these antibodies. These antibodies could emerge as a single therapy to treat all Ebola viruses. 

Background

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. Symptoms faced by people who have contracted the Ebola virus include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadly outbreak of the virus in the history that had killed 11,000 people.

 

 

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Ebola reaches US

Ebola virus which has claimed many lives in African nations due to lack of proper treatment and medication has now reached soils of United States of America. A patient who has recently travelled from Liberia on September 19, reached US on September 20. He was completely healthy at the time of his travel but developed symptoms of the infection after 4-5 days of his stay. He has been admitted to a Dallas hospital.
Authorities have kept his identity and the details of mode of infection secret. There were no media briefing about the treatment that is being administered to him. The patient has been kept in ICU and in isolation. He was on a family visit to US and has been moving freely ever since his arrival. Even after the apparent symptoms of the disease, he still had contacts with some people before he was put in complete isolation. The authorities are finding ways to pick out these contacts. Even the health crew who transported the patient has also been kept in isolation. The authorities also confirmed how many other patients the ambulance carried after the transport of Ebola infected person. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has duly stressed that there is no risk to public health and as all procedures were properly followed to decontaminate the ambulance. However, how far and wide the patient travelled in Dallas before being diagnosed is yet to be probed and checked to rule out any public health hazard.

Dr. Frieden finally added that “the bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country”. Ebola causes viral hemorrhagic fever, which can affect multiple organ systems in the body and is often accompanied by bleeding. Early symptoms include sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, each of which can be easily mistaken early on for other ailments like malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis.
Ebola is spread by direct contact with someone sick with the virus. That means people on the patient’s flight are not thought to be at risk, as he did not begin to show symptoms until several days after arriving in the United States, Frieden said.

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Everything you want to know about Ebola

Ebola Virus Disease or Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever is fast making its presence felt along the length and breadth of African continent as its recorded and verified spread which started from Guinea has engulfed Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The disease spread is seen in majorly in the remote villages near tropical rainforests. It is the deadliest outbreak of the disease which has claimed 1145 lives out of 2127 total cases reported so far. There is no known cure for the fever and thus almost 90% of the patients lose their life.

Ebola first surfaced in 2 successive outbreaks in Sudan and in Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. It also derives its name from the Ebola River which flows close to the village in DRC where it first showed up.

Virology

Ebola Virus is a member of family Filoviridae. The family has three members:

  1. Genus Ebolavirus
  2. Genus Marburgvirus
  3. Genus Cuevavirus

Genus Ebolavirus is further classified into 5 viral species. They are:

  1. Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
  2. Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
  3. Reston ebolavirus(RESTV)
  4. Sudan ebolavirus(SUDV)
  5. Tai Forest ebolavirus(TAFV)

The most deadly species to make a mark this year are BDBV, EBOV and SUDV. The genome is nearly 19 kbps long and carry specific sequences. These are generally very coiled and highly filamentous particles.

Transmission

The virus has shown easy spread in humans. It transmits through close contact with blood, secretions, organs and other body fluids. In other animals, bats are reported to be likely the largest reservoir of ebola. The African infection possibly spread from the workers handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats etc. in the rainforests. Men who have recovered from infection have potential to spread it for 7 weeks through their semen. The most vulnerable people are the health care workers who are treating people already infected with the disease. There are proven results of such transmissions in Africa. Experts however, rule out possibilities of a widespread occurrence as it is only spread via direct contact.

Symptoms

There is a lag of 2- 20 days observed between contracting the infection and manifestation of symptoms. Early signs have been equated to dengue, malaria or other tropical fevers. EVD typically causes an acute viral illness which begins with an abrupt fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. Further progress is marked by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver functions. This often leads to a worsened bleeding phase which is spelt by internal and subcutaneous bleeding. The WBC count drops considerably and liver enzymes shoot in number. People are seen to carry infection for about 2-3 months after they have recovered from the disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis takes time as the early manifestations of infection are similar to other viral infections. So, the scientists start by ruling out possibilities of any other infection before boiling down to Ebola. It thus takes an extensive laboratory process to diagnose Ebola. Tests which are done for the same are:

  1. ELISA
  2. Antigen detection tests
  3. Serum neutralization tests
  4. RT-PCR assay
  5. Electron Microscopy

There is no defined cure available for the same. Even though many vaccines are being put to test. New drug therapies are constantly evaluated and tested. Patients who are badly ill need very intensive acre due to frequent dehydration.

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