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Ebola virus and Marburg virus

Definition


Disease: Ebola virus and Marburg virus Ebola virus and Marburg virus
Category: Infectious diseases

Disease Definition:

Ebola virus and Marburg virus are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers, illnesses that cause hemorrhage (severe bleeding), organ failure, and eventually death. The origin of both of these viruses is Africa, where infrequent outbreaks have occurred for decades.

 

Humans can contract these viruses from infected animals, because they live in one or more animal hosts. Following the initial transmission, the viruses can spread from one person to another through contact with contaminated needles or body fluids.

 

Usually, when someone is diagnosed with Ebola virus or Marburg virus, he/she receives supportive care and treatment for complications, however, there’s no effective therapy for hemorrhagic fevers caused by these viruses.
 

Work Group:


Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

Within a few days to a week or more after the infection, the signs and symptoms of hemorrhagic fevers caused by these viruses start abruptly. Some of the early signs and symptoms may include:

 

  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe headache
  • Sore throat
  • Joint and muscle aches

 

The symptoms will become increasingly severe over time and may include:

 

  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody
  • Raised rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Red eyes
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Confusion, irritability or aggression
  • Massive hemorrhaging from many places, such as the nose, eyes, mouth, ears and rectum.
     

Causes:

In the mid-20th century, the Ebola and Marburg viruses emerged from tropical rain forests in Africa. These viruses live in an animal host, and it is most likely that humans became infected when they encroached on native habitat and encountered the viruses for the first time.

 

Even though people have been infected with these viruses through contact with monkeys, chimpanzees and other non-human primates, however, they are only a link in the chain of infection; they are not the natural reservoir of the viruses. The source of the virus has been identified as a species of African fruit bat.

 

As mentioned earlier, the virus could spread through contact with an infected person’s body fluids or through the use of contaminated needles or syringes.

 

The virus doesn’t spread through casual contact because it is thought that humans don’t produce enough Ebola virus or Marburg virus in airborne droplets to cause infections.

 

Complications

Complications:

A high percentage of people infected with Ebola virus or Marburg virus die due to hemorrhagic fevers. As the illness progresses, it can cause:

 

  • Seizures
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Jaundice
  • Delirium
  • Severe bleeding
  • Shock
  • Coma

 

Generally, death occurs within less than 10 days after the start of the signs and symptoms.

 

These viruses interfere with the immune system’s ability to mount a defense, making them deadly. However, it is still not clear why some people recover from Ebola and Marburg, while others don’t.

 

When people do survive, their recovery is usually slow. The viruses remain in the body for many weeks and it may take months to regain weight and strength. These survivors may experience:

 

  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Testicular inflammation
  • Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
  • Sensory changes
  • Eye inflammation
  • Fatigue
     

Treatments:

Ebola virus or Marburg virus infections cannot be treated with antiviral medications. In which case treatment consists of only supportive hospital care, including maintaining adequate blood pressure, providing fluids, replacing blood loss and treating any other infections that may develop. In order to improve clotting, some people receive transfusions of plasma to replenish blood proteins.

 

Health care workers should follow strict infection-control precautions, and hospitals are urged to keep people with Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever isolated from others in negative-pressure rooms that maintain the flow of air into, rather than out of enclosed spaces.
 

Prognosis:

Not available

Expert's opinion

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