Ebola virus and Marburg virus are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers, which is the illnesses marked by severe bleeding organ failure and, in many cases, death. Both viruses are native to Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades. Ebola virus and Marburg virus live in animal hosts, and humans can contract the viruses from infected animals. After the initial transmission, the viruses can spread from person to person through contact with body fluids or contaminated needles. No drug has been approved to treat either virus. People diagnosed with Ebola or Marburg virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications. Scientists are coming closer to developing vaccines for these deadly diseases.
Signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection with Ebola or Marburg virus. Early signs and symptoms include Fever, severe headache, joint and muscle aches, Chills, Weakness, nausea and vomiting, Diarrhea, red eyes, raised rash, chest pain and cough, stomach pain, severe weight loss, bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising and internal bleeding.
People can become infected with the Ebola virus if they come into contact with the blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person. Most people are infected by giving care to other infected people, either by directly touching the victim’s body or by cleaning up body fluids that carry infectious blood. There’s currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus disease, although potential new vaccines and drug therapies are being developed and tested.
Patients diagnosed with Ebola virus disease are placed in isolation in intensive care, where their blood oxygen levels and blood pressure are maintained at the right level and their body organs supported. Read more information about how Ebola virus disease is treated. Healthcare workers need to avoid contact with the bodily fluids of their infected patients by taking strict precautions. ZMapp is an experimental treatment that can be tried, although it has not yet been tested in humans for safety or effectiveness. The product is a combination of three different antibodies that bind to the protein of the Ebola virus.
Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.
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