Ebola: History and Outbreaks

Ebola was first discovered more than 40 years ago, though data suggests the virus existed long before it was officially identified. The first two recorded outbreaks of Ebola happened in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of Congo) and what is now South Sudan

 

Ebola Outbreaks

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 by a team of researchers that included Belgian microbiologist Peter Piot, MD, PhD – hiday.live

 

1. History of Ebola Virus

On June 27, 1976, A factory storekeeper in the Nzara township of Sudan becomes ill. Five days later, he dies, and the world’s first recorded Ebola virus epidemic begins making its way through the area. By the time the epidemic is over, 284 cases are reported, with about half of the victims dying from the disease.

Symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever generally begin about four to 15 days after a person is infected with the virus. The average victim will first notice flu-like symptoms, such as a high fever, aching and general weakness. Usually this is followed by diarrhea, vomiting and the eruption of rashes all over the body. Then the person may begin bleeding from any and all body orifices and internal organ damage begins. Within seven to 10 days, exhaustion, dehydration and shock set in.

After the storekeeper in Nzara died, a second man in town died on July 6. His brother became sick soon after, but managed to recover. The brother’s co-worker went to the hospital on July 12 with symptoms and was dead two days later; the co-worker’s wife died five days after that. A week later a male neighbor died. Eventually, another 48 infections and 27 deaths were traced back to the neighbor.

Given this pattern of infection and the fact that hospital workers also started to develop symptoms, doctors realized that transmission of the virus required only close contact. At Maridi Hospital in southern Sudan, 33 of the 61 nurses ended up dead from Ebola fever.

 

ebola outbreak map

 

2. 2014–2016 Outbreak

The World Health Organization finally arrived in October and helped to contain the epidemic. Once it became clear that isolating the victims would stop the spread, the epidemic ended almost as quickly as it had appeared. There have been a handful of other Ebola outbreaks in the years since 1976—including one in 2014 that resulted in over 11,000 deaths, mostly in West Africa.

On August 1, 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health reported an Ebola outbreak in North Kivu province. This is the 10th Ebola outbreak in the region since the virus was discovered.

As of December 19, 2018, the Ministry of Health has reported 542 total new Ebola cases (494 of which have been confirmed) and 319 deaths (271 confirmed). Experts say this outbreak is the second-deadliest ever, behind only the 2014–2016 West Africa epidemic.

 

3. How Can an Ebola Outbreak Be Predicted?

There’s no clear-cut way to predict an Ebola outbreak. But observing disease epidemics in animals may offer clues. The CDC says that outbreaks in nonhuman primates and antelope often precede or happen simultaneously as human outbreaks occur in nearby areas.

Detecting an outbreak early on could be an effective way to minimize its impact.

 

4. How Can an Ebola Outbreak Be Stopped?

Stopping an Ebola outbreak isn’t simple, because the virus spreads so quickly. But some measures can help slow transmission.

The first step is to identify and diagnose infected individuals. Then these patients must be isolated and monitored for 21 days after exposure.

Next, public health officials should locate people that the infected patient had contact with and test them for the virus. If they have it, they too should be isolated.

Healthcare workers should wear proper gear and follow protocols to prevent the infection from spreading.

 

Source : https://www.everydayhealth.com/ebola/guide/outbreaks/

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