Ebola Virus Death Toll Rises to 6,388; What is Ebola?

On December 10th, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the number of people killed by the Ebola virus has nearly reached 6,400 people.

The WHO reported, “A total of 17,942 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in five affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and the United States of America) and three previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal and Spain) up to the end of 7 December. There have been 6388 reported deaths.”

The report also stated, “Reported case incidence is slightly increasing in Guinea (103 confirmed and probable cases reported in the week to 7 December), declining in Liberia (29 new confirmed cases in the 3 days to 3 December), and may still be increasing in Sierra Leone (397 new confirmed cases in the week to 7 December).”

“The case fatality rate across the three most-affected countries in all reported cases with a recorded definitive outcome is 76%; in hospitalized patients the case fatality rate is 61%,” it said.

If you follow these numbers along with the statistics, the maximum number of Ebola-related deaths and cases are as follows:

  • Liberia: 3,177 deaths and 7,719 cumulative cases
  • Sierra Leone: 1,768 deaths and 7,897 cumulative cases
  • Guinea: 1,428 deaths and 2,292 cumulative cases


What is Ebola?

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a disease caused by infections with the Filoviridae virus family. There are currently five identified species, four of which are known to cause diseases in humans and one that causes diseases in nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). All five viruses are closely related to marburgviruses.

The five virus species are:

  1. Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus)
  2. Bundibugyo virus (BDBV)
  3. Sudan virus (SUDV)
  4. Tai Forest virus (TAFV)
  5. Reston virus (RESTV) – Not thought to cause disease in humans.

ebola, virus, evd(Electron micrograph of an ebola virus)

There has been several discussions about how the virus is transmitted. Between people, it can only be spread by direct contact with blood or body fluids (saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen). The World Health Organization currently has no actual reports of the virus being transmitted via sweat. Furthermore, airborne transmission has not been reported to occur during an outbreak. A number of studies examined airborne transmission with pigs and primates that concluded there was no evidence of being infected without direct contact. (Source)

It is entirely unclear how Ebola began spreading. It it believed that the consumption of bushmeat, also known as game meat or wildmeat, is linked to the spread of Ebola as it is well-known to transmit diseases between animals and humans.

Symptoms of the virus occur between 2 to 21 days. Often, it is between 4 to 10 days. However, it has been predicted that around 5% of the cases can occur past 21 days. It begins with influenza-like characteristics, such as fatigue, fever (Higher than 100.9 degrees Fahrenheit), loss of appetite, muscle and joint pain, and headaches and sore throat. This is then followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Next, chest pains and shortness of breath. Depending on the case, these are followed by rashes, internal and external bleeding, blood in the stool, vomiting and coughing up blood, bleeding into the whites of the eyes, and inflammation of the intestinal tract. People are often in a coma at the end of life.

Supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment is the best treatment at the moment. There are currently no approved treatment.


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