Fear of Ebola Fever

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Copyright 2004 by http://www.organicgreens.us and Loring Windblad. This article may be freely copied and used on other web sites only if it is copied complete with all links and text intact and unchanged except for minor improvements such as misspellings and typos.
Exotic diseases are "in" these days. In the past year we've had a flesh-eating bacterial disease, pneumonic plague and now Ebola fever of Zaire, which is not only making international headlines, but is also the subject of a best-selling novel, The Hot Zone, and a new Dustin Hoffman film, Outbreak. Within the last few decades, scientists have identified several viruses originating in Africa, perhaps in line with Pliny's ancient Greek saying: "Out of Africa, always something new" (in reference to animals interbreeding at water holes). The prophesy might apply to Ebola virus, named for a river in northwestern Zaire, and one of the most recently identified of a class of viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers. It is responsible for the recent outbreak in the city of Kikwit in Zaire, so far having caused 205 cases and 153 deaths.
Hemorrhagic fevers are zoonoses (diseases of animal origin) that spread to humans from various animals - from rodents (Bolivian and Argentinian fever), from sheep (Rift Valley fever) or from monkeys (Marburg disease). Among the more recently uncovered causes of hemorrhagic fever, the Marburg virus, transmitted to humans from Ugandan monkeys, caused several deaths among German laboratory workers in 1969. Ebola virus of Zaire, one of the deadliest, with a fatality rate of about 75 per cent, is also thought to have been transmitted to humans from some animal (as yet unidentified). More familiar hemorrhagic fevers include dengue fever, Lassa fever and yellow fever - a known danger among ancient seafarers and visitors to West Africa. Despite an effective vaccine against it, yellow fever continues to smoulder on in tropical Africa. Environmentalists believe the spread of disease from animals to humans, as with the hemorrhagic fevers, poses an emergent threat because deforestation and other drastic practices have disturbed the biological harmony of ancient ecosystems.
Like other hemorrhagic fevers, Ebola virus kills by attacking the lining of blood vessels, making them "leaky" and destroying blood-clotting power, which leads to severe internal bleeding. Symptoms, which surface about 10 days after infection, include flu-like malaise (headache, sore throat, joint pains) and abrupt onset of fever. Later, in about 5 days, there may be a rash, severe stomach pains and the hemorrhagic signs - bleeding from the orifices (ears, nose), gastrointestinal bleeding and vomiting black blood. Death can follow rapidly from shock and kidney or liver failure.
Although Ebola fever is a fearsome disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) officials who studied earlier outbreaks concluded that it's not easily transmitted. The virus spreads from person to person by direct contact, mostly via face to face closeness and through blood and body fluids (saliva, urine) and is often passed from ill patients to those nursing them, especially if precautionary measures aren't up to scratch. Ebola fever does not seem to be an airborne disease and simple infection control measures such as wearing gloves and masks, using disposable needles, and strict body-fluid precautions, often suffice to prevent transmission.
Experience from earlier Ebola fever outbreaks gives no cause for alarm in Canada. The first known outbreaks of Ebola virus disease occurred almost simultaneously in 1976 in northern Zaire and southern Sudan, in centres about 200 km apart. A second Sudanese outbreak three years later provided much of the information available about its symptoms and spread. In both the Zaire and Sudan outbreaks, action was remarkably swift. Patients were tracked, villages quarantined and the epidemic halted within eight weeks.
However, modern air travel could zip the Ebola virus from Africa to downtown Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver in 24 hours, hence public worries about it. In Canada, despite reassurances from public health officials, who have firmly stated that there's no threat of an Ebola epidemic here, one traveller who arrived by air from Zaire was detained, and call-in TV shows have been abuzz with people worrying that Ebola virus might get a toehold in this country. Officials reiterate that this is highly unlikely as it's not easily transmitted, and our stringent "universal precautions" practiced in hospital, with effective use of masks, gloves and gowns, can prevent spread.
Although Ebola virus was first discovered 20 years ago, there is still no vaccine or effective cure. Outbreaks have been confined to certain parts of Africa and the infection has never been detected in humans outside that continent. Although outbreaks tend to involve serious illness, milder infection might also exist and confer immunity. Public health officials repeat that, based on everything known about it, an Ebola virus epidemic in Canada is highly unlikely. Theoretically it is possible for an infected person from Africa to arrive here on a plane and spread it, but it's improbable as people must be ill with the disease to be infectious and they would likely be picked up by immigration officials, or too sick to travel.

About the Author

Loring Windblad has studied nutrition and exercise for more than 40 years, is a published author and freelance writer. His latest business endeavor is at: http://www.organicgreens.us

Comments

aaronf325 09.06.2008. 01:32

What is the deadliest disease in the world? Array

aaronf325

Admin 09.06.2008. 01:32

It's hard to answer specifically because there are so many rare diseases that are almost 100% fatal. Like Rabies once you have symptoms, or simian herpes virus B.

Black plague was one of the most feared diseases in history, but it can be treated now with the most simple antibiotics. Ebola, Hanta Virus, Lassa fever virus all have horrible symptoms, but about 1/5 of people who get them recover and are immune.

I would guess heart disease would kill the highest number of people, or for infectious diseases, probably HIV, malaria or tuberculosis.

For just the scariest I would say Ebola. It would be a horrible way to go, and nobody would come close to you.

For the highest percentage probably rabies. Only one person is known to have recovered from rabies without having the vaccine given. Before the vaccine was discovered, it was almost always fatal.

Admin

Blackfire 03.08.2007. 16:38

What natural disaster do u fear the most? Array

Blackfire

Admin 03.08.2007. 16:38

An outbreak of a hemorrhagic fever. More commonly known as the Ebola virus. And its a horrible way to die and kills with about 90% efficiency. If a meteor comes your dead right away, but if that gets you you die slowly drowning in your own blood's fluids. The virus causes capillary walls to rupture causing you to bleed from the inside.

Admin

Kenny 29.04.2009. 05:20

Hypochondria and the Swine Flu? Did everyone become a hypochondriac overnight? Everyone seems to be worrying about something they don't need to worry about.

Can't we just go back to rational disease fears like Ebola, Encephalitis, Meningitis, Dengue Fever, and Gonorrhea?

Kenny

Admin 29.04.2009. 05:20

What we're witnessing is mass hysteria, paranoia, and hypochondria.

No one wants to listen to the ways of PREVENTING Swine Flu they just want to know if their symptoms ARE Swine Flu.

This is really ridiculous. Simply washing your hands can prevent you from catching it. Staying away from sick people will also help in the prevention.

People aren't using common sense at all. This is sad.

Admin

Aaron 24.03.2010. 00:01

What is the name of the virus in the movie Outbreak??!!!? and what are the symptoms?

Aaron

Admin 24.03.2010. 00:01

Motaba Virus, an Ebola like virus.
The illness was characterized by the rapid onset of fever, malaise, muscle pain, headache and the inflammation of the pharynx. A few days later it is followed by vomiting and bloody diarrhea then bleeding starts at needle sites and body orifices (like the eyes and mouth).

Ebola is a blood born virus or transmitted thorough body fluids, but Motaba became airborne, one of the worst fears about Ebola because the fatality rate ranges from 50?89%. I believe that Motaba had an even worse survival rate.

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outbreak_%28film%29
"The film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba"

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola#Symptoms
"llness is characterized by the rapid onset of fever, malaise, muscle pain, headache, and the inflammation of the pharynx. Six days following vomiting and bloody diarrhea, individuals may develop maculopapular rash with bleeding at needle sites and bodily orifices."

Admin

satans_left_hand 08.04.2008. 03:12

Ebola or HIV? I know that HIV causes AIDS and Ebola causes the Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.

Which one causes more pain and which one is more fatal?

satans_left_hand

Admin 08.04.2008. 03:12

I think you're comparing apples to oranges. The experiences and pain levels are not similar. I'm not a health professional or an expert but I know you can actively protect yourself against getting HIV. And HIV, in every case differs in the length of time it develops into AIDS. HIV and AIDS are not curable at this time, but drugs can prolong your life, without unnecessary suffering. And we have pain killers such as morphine and demerol which may be delivered to the patient. Sometimes signs of cancer show up, but most often, because it is an anti-immune virus, something we take for granted, such as pneumonia will be the cause of death.
E.H.F. is a disease which is airborn and anyone can become infected. Usually the person dies within a day or two of showing symptoms, such as the high fever, and bleeding from body orifices. And it is extremely painful. It too has no cure, but so little is known about it in comparison to HIV/AIDS these days.
E.H.F. can show up without warning in a population, ravage it for a couple weeks and disappear without explanation. But E.H.F. is a very rare disease.
Both HIV and E.H.F. involve pain--dying does, unless we alleviate it with a drug. Someone has said pessimistically, that all life is fatal. I may be wrong, but I think AIDS has somewhat lost the stigma it had when first discovered. People don't fear AIDS patients like they used to. But they need to be shown compassion, as do victims of Ebola; however, Ebola does affect a percentage of the medical community caring for the patients, so there is a lot of fear. Also, it occurs in developing countries where
education about it, etc. is rare. But that is merely temporary. A person needs to consider what they will do about eternity, for physical pain is only temporary, eternal experience lasts forever.

Admin

Azn NInja 27.08.2010. 03:23

what is deadlier the black death or ebola? i am curious....

Azn NInja

Admin 27.08.2010. 03:23

Technically the Plague(Black Death) is more infectious and can spread more easily(by air and by rats) however it is currently curable.Currently outbreaks of plague are rare.Ebola on the other hand is harder to spread(not airborne), however it kills the victim quickly and there is no cure for it.The Ebola virus's extreme deadliness also makes it harder to spread as the infected dies before he/she has the chance to travel and unintentionally spread the virus.Also Ebola outbreaks are relatively small due to precautionary measures taken by health authorities and the WHO.

Here are summaries on them if you want to know more about the 2 diseases.

The Black Death is a nick name for Bubonic Plague which is caused by the bacterium Yersinia Pestis.It is a relatively old disease when compared to Ebola.The plague has caused more fear and terror than perhaps any other infectious disease in the history of humankind. It has laid claim to nearly 200 million lives over several pandemics.However in the 21st century we have treatments for it ,nevertheless it is highly infectious.Outbreaks now are rare.

Ebola or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a relatively new disease caused by the Ebolavirus (EBOV) genus of viruses.It is caused by a virus unlike the plague ,which is caused by a bacterium.Ebola outbreaks are relatively small due to precautionary measures taken by health authorities and the WHO.It currently has no cure and there is a fatality rate of about 25-90%.It can currently (natural Ebola only, weaponized Ebola is another thing )spread by coming in contact with infected bodily fluids so it can be easily contained unlike airborne infections.The quick onset of symptoms from the time the disease becomes contagious in an individual makes it easy to identify sick individuals and limits an individual's ability to spread the disease by traveling.

Both diseases can be weaponized.Eeek!

Admin

ArmyWifey 01.06.2007. 16:52

Does anyone else think the way Mr. Speaker is being treated is wrong? (TB patient in the news)? Yes the man has TB but they're acting like he's got the EBOLA virus for crying out loud!

The govt is just trying to cover their own butts in my book. Lots of people could have the same thing and not even know it! No coughing, no fever, etc....he's a very blessed man to be able to know it and be treated and instead is being treated as a pariah.

The flight TO Europe is one thing - the doc's obviously didn't tell him not to or make a serious effort to detain him. The flight back is another - although I can understand his fear the US could have made arrangements for him to be flown back privately/with his family instead of just turn yourself in we don't want to deal with you. While I've lived in Europe and have faith in the German/Swiss systym I'm not sure I would have stayed in Italy either.

TB is a treatable diease - even the kind he has in it's early stages.
Actually it's rather funny that you ask if I've seen Tombstone .... I'm FROM Tombstone and Doc Holiday was treatable he chose not to be treated further fyi. Treatments have changed since the 1880's as well - and consumption (as it was called) wasn't always a death sentence. Even the doc's in this case are optomisitc because they caught this strain so early. There are also alternatives to antibiotics which can work if used properly.
My main point is not that he needs to be treated or that he should have had a chartered flight offered back from Europe / perhaps been instructed where to go in Germany or Switzerland...........it is that the inital flight was well maybe you shouldn't and if the govt really wanted him detained they could have --- please! it's not that hard anymore --- but that the way he's being treated now as though he's infected the entire world and should be locked away for life is wrong. Who's next people with other infectious diseases? Ghettos for people with them?
Not everyone exposed is infected - his own wife doesn't have it and I'm sure she has been!

ArmyWifey

Admin 01.06.2007. 16:52

Yes, the media LOVES to blow things out of proportion.

Admin

Punk Rock 06.01.2010. 01:23

Why Am I So Scared Of Getting Diseases? Ok I'm really scared of getting diseases especially the fatal ones, like rabies and ebola, and botulism and yellow fever, and pretty much everything. I think it's because I'm a hypochondriac and it's getting worse I can hardly sleep and I'm getting really jumpy. I don't think I'll ever get rid of the fear of them, because it just scares the hell out of me and I keep getting the feeling that I might be sick with something. Can some one please tell me why I'm so afraid of getting sick all the time? And how do I make it stop?

Punk Rock

Admin 06.01.2010. 01:23

You might be helped with counseling. You do sound like a hypochondriac.

Admin

pinkbunny 25.10.2007. 15:32

what is a ebola virus? please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pinkbunny

Admin 25.10.2007. 15:32

Ebola, one of the most deadly viruses known to man. A virus that can cause much more fear than any horror movie, and just as gruesome. Ebola virus is one of at least 18 known viruses capable of causing the viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome. Although agents of the viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome constitute a geographically diverse group of viruses, to date, all are RNA viruses, all are considered zoonoses, all damage the microvasculature resulting in increased vascular permeability, and all are members of 1 of 4 families: Arenaviridae, Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae, and Filoviridae.

Admin

ReptileGirl 19.02.2010. 03:02

Probability of Bio-Terrorism Attack? With new technologies and understanding of viruses and bacterium, people are getting more and more concerned about biological attacks. I live in a fairly small town in Alabama, and people down here do not get concerned. Terrorists tend to seek publicity in the bigger cities, but that does not mean Alabama is exempt from their target list. And besides, it would be just as effective to hit small places too, because then everybody would have a reason to be afraid. Sometimes fear is a great weapon alone.
I just want to know the probability of attack on the smaller states. I am especially worried about things such as Ebola, H5N1, yersinia pestis, Marburg, hantavirus, and Lassa fever as potential weapons.

ReptileGirl

Admin 19.02.2010. 03:02

The organisms you list have all been looked at at one time or another as a potential weapon. The good news is that they have been rejected for a variety of reasons.
They have all proved either:
Too hard to convert to a usable weapon - no shelf life, too fragile to deploy, too picky about the environment they are deployed in, not stable while in transit.
Too rapid acting - a good biological weapon gets itself spread around to a lot of targets before people start getting sick and showing symptoms. Ebola and similar viruses work very fast, and people go from infected to sick quickly, so they don't spread far
Too Slow acting - The aids virus would be a great weapon, except it takes too long
No Antidote - You can't completely control where germs and viruses spread. - It would be a real bummer to take out your enemy and find out your own country died as you claimed victory.

There have only been a few diseases that have made it past the initial screening process
Anthrax is one
But as the anthrax attacks after 9/11 proved, even weaponized anthrax is not all that deadly. It certainly is not worth the cost it takes to produce.

Chemical weapons have much more "bang for the buck"
If your going to play with weapons of mass destruction, then nerve gas has to be the weapon of choice. A pint bottle of VX released from the Empire State building would wipe out Manhattan.

Chemical weapons scare the professionals far more than nukes do.

Admin

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