What you need to know.

In 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly called Zaire), fatal hemorrhagic fever began to overcome a village near the Ebola River. This would eventually be termed Ebola virus disease (EVD) and would go on to be one of the most fatal viral diseases ever. In 2014, EVD entered Sierra Leone from Guinea and the outbreak became an epidemic within only months. EVD is a deadly and rare disease that affects human and nonhuman primates that consists of four strains including: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus), Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus), Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus), Bundibugyo (Bundibugyo ebolavirus).

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Symptoms and Manifestion

  • Fever 

  • Aches and pains 

  • Severe headache 

  • Muscle and joint pain 

  • Abdominal (stomach) pain 

  • Weakness and fatigue 

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting 

  • Unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding or bruising 

  • Late stage: red eyes, skin rash, hiccups 


Ebola virus disease manifests with many of the same symptoms as other viruses like influenza. Some of the primary symptoms are fever, generalized weakness and fatigue, muscle and joint pains, abdominal pain and associated symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, and most notably, unexplained hemorrhaging. Symptoms typically progress from dry, like the first half of symptoms listed, to the wet symptoms like bleeding and diarrhea, which quickly dehydrate the affected person and cause them to become critically ill.   

 

Transmission

The main mode of transmission during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak was between family members due to direct contact with a body of someone who was sick with or had died from EVD. As more people died and funerals and burials increased, this mode of transmission proved even more dangerous. In many African countries, touching the body of someone who has died is a part of the funeral process, therefore the infections within families grew. Eventually, changing the guidelines for funerals and burials would be critical for containing the EVD epidemic.

 

Impact

The 2014 Ebola outbreak hit many West African countries hard, including Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone had nearly 4,000 deaths, along with another several thousand suspected and confirmed cases. Those who survived Ebola have been left to deal with long-term side effects from the disease. Ebola survivors have reported both physical and mental health issues after recovering from the disease, which has overall decreased the life expectancy in those who have survived Ebola.

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