We like to boast that we are in the age of science and technology. But still, few diseases remain incurable and people suffering from these diseases have no respite. We might say that all these diseases are not fatal, but the fact still remains that these diseases are incurable. A disease is called incurable when there are no medications to get rid of it completely. For example, when you get a stomach infection, you can have some antibiotics and get well in 3 days. It might take longer to heal but then, it has a cure. But when you catch cold or pick up viral, no medicines can help you. Viral diseases are still incurable. In fact, a severe cold and lung infections can also be termed as a fatal disease in some cases. The other variety of diseases that are incurable are the chronic ones. Diseases like diabetes and arthritis usually do not kill anybody. But they cannot be cured permanently; you can only control them with medications and by following proper lifestyle. Even for fatal diseases like cancer, the cure is unstable. Cancer is known to reoccur inspite of surgery and chemotherapy. So you cannot really say that cancer is curable.
Ebola is a tropical virus that was first identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. It’s a haemorrhagic virus spread by bodily fluids, and as patients often vomit blood, the people looking after them very often contract it. It begins with flu-like symptoms but eventually leads to serious internal bleeding, and, usually, death.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease which may be caused by any of four of the five known ebola viruses. These four viruses are: Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), and Taï Forest virus (TAFV, formerly and more commonly Côte d’Ivoire Ebola virus (Ivory Coast Ebolavirus, CIEBOV)). EVD is a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), and is clinically nearly indistinguishable from Marburg virus disease (MVD). The name comes from the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it was first found.
Manifestation of Ebola begins with a sudden onset of an influenza-like stage characterized by general malaise, fever with chills, arthralgia, myalgia, and chest pain. Nausea is accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Respiratory tract involvement is characterized by pharyngitis with sore throat, cough, dyspnea, and hiccups. The central nervous system is affected as judged by the development of severe headaches, agitation, confusion, fatigue, depression, seizures, and sometimes coma.
Cutaneous presentation may include: maculopapular rash, petechiae, purpura, ecchymoses, and hematomas (especially around needle injection sites). Development of hemorrhagic symptoms is generally indicative of a negative prognosis. However, contrary to popular belief, hemorrhage does not lead to hypovolemia and is not the cause of death (total blood loss is low except during labor). Instead, death occurs due to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) due to fluid redistribution, hypotension, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and focal tissue necroses. The mean incubation period, best calculated currently for EVD outbreaks due to EBOV infection, is 12.7 days (standard deviation = 4.3 days), but can be as long as 25 days.
All patients show some extent of coagulopathy and impaired circulatory system symptomology. Bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites is reported in 40–50% of cases, while maculopapular rashes are evident in approximately 50% of cases. Sources of bleeds include hematemesis, hemoptysis, melena, and aforementioned bleeding from mucous membranes (gastroinestinal tract, nose, vagina and gingiva). Diffuse bleeding, however, is rare, and is usually exclusive to the gastrointestinal tract.
EVD is caused by four of five viruses classified in the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales: Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), Ebola virus (EBOV), Sudan virus (SUDV), and Taï Forest virus (TAFV).
All epidemics of Ebola have occurred in sub-optimal hospital conditions, where practices of basic hygiene and sanitation are often either luxuries or unknown to caretakers and where disposable needles and autoclaves are unavailable or too expensive. In modern hospitals with disposable needles and knowledge of basic hygiene and barrier nursing techniques, Ebola has never spread on a large scale. In isolated settings such as a quarantined hospital or a remote village, most victims are infected shortly after the first case of infection is present. The quick onset of symptoms from the time the disease becomes contagious in an individual makes it easy to identify sick individuals and limits an individual’s ability to spread the disease by traveling. Because bodies of the deceased are still infectious, some doctors had to take measures to properly dispose of dead bodies in a safe manner despite local traditional burial rituals.
As an outbreak of ebola progresses, bodily fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding represent a hazard. Due to lack of proper equipment and hygienic practices, large-scale epidemics occur mostly in poor, isolated areas without modern hospitals or well-educated medical staff. Many areas where the infectious reservoir exists have just these characteristics. In such environments, all that can be done is to immediately cease all needle-sharing or use without adequate sterilization procedures, isolate patients, and observe strict barrier nursing procedures with the use of a medical-rated disposable face mask, gloves, goggles, and a gown at all times, strictly enforced for all medical personnel and visitors. The aim of all of these techniques is to avoid any person’s contact with the blood or secretions of any patient, including those who are deceased.
There is currently no FDA-approved ebolavirus-specific therapy for EVD. Treatment is primarily supportive in nature and includes minimizing invasive procedures, balancing fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration, administration of anticoagulants early in infection to prevent or control disseminated intravascular coagulation, administration of procoagulants late in infection to control hemorrhaging, maintaining oxygen levels, pain management, and administration of antibiotics or antimycotics to treat secondary infections.
Hyperimmune equine immunoglobulin raised against EBOV has been used in Russia to treat a laboratory worker who accidentally infected herself with EBOV—but the patient died anyway. Experimentally, recombinant vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus (VSIV) expressing the glycoprotein of EBOV or SUDV has been used successfully in nonhuman primate models as post-exposure prophylaxis.
In late 2012, Canadian scientists discovered that the deadliest form of the virus could be transmitted by air between species. They managed to prove that the virus was transmitted from pigs to monkeys without any direct contact between them, leading to fears that airborne transmission could be contributing to the wider spread of the disease in parts of Africa. Evidence was also found that pigs might be one of the reservoir hosts for the virus; the fruit bat has long been considered as the reservoir.