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the Ebola virus

the Ebola virus

Two new Ebola vaccines will soon be tried in West Africa. Trials in volunteers in the USA and UK suggest the vaccines are safe and can generate an immune response.It is not known how much protection against Ebola, or for how long, the vaccines might provide.

Liberia is expected to start trials by the end of January, while Sierra Leone and Guinea will begin in the first half of February.

Dr Kieny of WHO [the World Health Organisation] said:

“2015 will be remembered as the year humanity used our best scientific minds to fight back.

Ebola Facts

 Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic illness which has a 90% mortality rate without treatment and about a 50% mortality rate with supportive treatment

The name originates from the Ebola River, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of the first recorded case in the 1970’s.

This present outbreak  has killed more than 8,000 and is affecting the West African countries of Sierrra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.


The virus lives in fruit bats. but hardly affects them. It is Zoonotic [a disease of animals which has been passed to humans]. The tree contained a lot of fruit bats. Villagers lit a fire and bats streamed out.


This Ebola epidemic is said to have originated from a 2 yr old boy – ‘patient 0’‘ who played with bats in a tree stump while his mother washed clothes in the nearby river. He was the first to die, in Dec 2013, then his sister and mother and grandmother. Others who visited the funerals spread it to other villages. The custom of washing the dead and touching them to pay respects is responsible for passing the virus as dead bodies contain an extremely high viral load.His village was in Guinea, near the border of Sierra Leone and Liberia

The early symptoms are a fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and sore throat. All are very common and can be caused by numerous diseases such as malaria, or Lassa Fever [another but not so serious viral haemorrhagic fever endemic in West Africa].These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and bleeding – both internal and external – which can be seen in the gums, eyes, nose and in the stools. The virus is a haemorrhagic virus which means it attacks the blood vessels causing blood to seep out

Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure. Thus treatment involves rehydrating using intravenous fluids.

People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.

The disease is not airborne, like flu. Very close direct contact with an infected person is needed to pass to another person.

How Ebola spreads

It can take from 2 days to 21 days to develop symptoms. People are not infectious until the symptoms develop. However the time delay before the appearance of symptoms makes it hard to detect possible carriers of the virus at airports from entering countries and spreading the virus. The Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferky came back from Sierra Leone via Heathrow without being detected as a possible Ebola case. She is now being treated at The Royal Free Hospital in London..