The Ebola virus outbreak emerged in March 2014 and quickly became the deadliest Ebola outbreak. All doctors need to be aware of this disease and means of transmissions. Most of the outbreaks have taken place in West Africa, but as most recent news reports have shown, there have been cases in the United States. There have been nearly 2,000 deaths in Africa, with a mortality rate of nearly 50%.
According to the CDC, the natural host of Ebola virus is unknown. Some evidence shows that it is animal borne and that bats may be a likely reservoir.
Once an infection occurs, there are several ways the Ebola virus can be transmitted.
1. Direct contact with blood or any secretions of an infected individual, such as saliva and sweat.
2. Exposure to objects that have been contaminated with an infected persons secretions.
3. Close contact with an infected person for a prolonged period of period while not wearing recommended personal protection equipment.
To date airborne spread among humans is suspected, although it has not been demonstrated.
There are several ways it can be tested for, that a speciality lab will use to identify an acute infection.
When an infection occurs, symptoms may appear 2-21 days after exposure. Initial signs can be fever, chills, body aches an weakness. Some individuals develop a rash a week after exposure. As it progresses, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, headache and confusion can occur. Patients with fatal disease die typically between days 6-16 from complications of multi-organ failure.
There are currently on FDA approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola virus. Management focuses on supportive care. Several investigational vaccines are in development. ZMapp has been used to treat six patients. ZMapp had previously been tested only in monkeys. ZMapp is a combination of 2 different serums from two companies. It is a humanized monoclonal antibody. An Ebola virus vaccine is being developed by the US NIH and it is currently being tested.