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Epidemiology: Ebola Virus and Healthy People 2020 Essay

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Updated: May 27th, 2021

This paper presents a discussion of Ebola virus disease, a dangerous condition associated with a high mortality rate. In the report, the general information about the illness is stated, as well as the history of the disease and its symptoms and signs. Moreover, in the paper, Ebola virus disease is reviewed according to the epidemiological triangle and the factors contributing to its spread are also considered. Finally, the report features a discussion of the Healthy People 2020 objectives regarding the condition.

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola virus disease is one of the deadliest illnesses on the planet with a mortality rate of up to 90% depending on its causes (Rivera & Messaoudi, 2015). It can be caused by various viruses; the most common are the Zaire Ebola virus, Bundibugyo Ebola virus, and Sudan Ebola virus. Non-specific symptoms that occur during the early stages of the disease make the diagnosis difficult, which increases the severity of the condition.

Treatment options include intravenous infusion of fluids and electrolytes, oxygen therapy, and the use of medication to eliminate symptoms (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Notably, currently, there are no antiviral treatment strategies approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are various types of vaccines that have been successfully used as disease prevention methods. Other control measures for Ebola virus disease may include isolation of sick individuals, avoiding traveling if there is a risk of contamination, the high level of personal hygiene, changes in diets for tribal natives, and safe burial places.

History of the Disease

The history of Ebola started in 1976 when two cases of fatal hemorrhagic fever were reported in Central Africa (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018b). Notably, these outbreaks were caused by different viruses, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus, which spread independently and affected individuals living in two different locations. Scientists assume that the factors that caused the initial spread of Ebola include population growth and interaction with wildlife, for example, through the consumption of bushmeat (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018b).

As of today, the majority of Ebola virus disease cases occurred in Africa. However, in 2014-2016, the outbreak of the disease became a global epidemic and affected at least eight countries, causing more than 9,900 deaths (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018b; Rivera & Messaoudi, 2015). During that outbreak, the primary means of transmission was between family members.

Symptoms and Signs of Ebola

Ebola virus encodes glycoprotein, nucleoprotein, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and four structural proteins, including VP24, VP30, VP35, and VP40. (Rivera & Messaoudi, 2015). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018c) report that the symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle pain, severe headache, weakness and fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bleeding or bruising of unknown nature.

These signs may occur from two to 21 days after contamination and last for 8 to 10 days. Notably, these symptoms are common for other diseases as well, such as malaria or influenza (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018c). However, at the terminal stage of Ebola, some specific signs may occur; they include massive tissue injury, hemorrhage, vascular permeability, and dysregulation of the coagulation cascade (Rivera & Messaoudi, 2015). The disease can also lead to the loss of consciousness and coma. The primary causes of death are shock, major blood loss, and multiorgan failure.

Epidemiological Triangle

The agent factors of the disease include five genus viruses, Zaire Ebola virus, Bundibugyo Ebola virus, Sudan Ebola virus, Reston Ebola virus, and Tai Forest Ebola virus (Kaur, Sachdeva, Jha, & Sulania, 2017). Zaire Ebola virus poses the most significant threat to humans and animals. Nonhuman primates, as well as pigs, are considered the primary hosts of the disease; fruit bats are the reservoirs of the Ebola virus (Kaur et al., 2017).

Notably, mammals die as a result of the disease, while bats do not experience acute illnesses caused by viruses. The sources of infection include the contact with blood or body fluids of hosts or reservoirs. Human-to-human transmission is caused by contact with ill individuals’ body fluids, as well as needles, syringes, and other medical equipment contaminated with them. The contact with the body organs of the diseased person can cause the illness too. Environmental factors include high absolute humidity and low temperature.

Factors Contributing to the Spread of Ebola

Several factors can contribute to the spread of the disease. First, Kaur et al. (2017) note that seasonal migration of fruit bats may result in increased contact with animals and humans. Another factor is African cultural aspects; for example, during burial ceremonies, contact with the body of a deceased person often occurs. Moreover, the lack of personal hygiene and protective measures, such as the use of gloves by medical professionals, increases the risk of contamination and transmission of Ebola virus disease.

Notably, individuals’ daily activities may contribute to the spread of Ebola too. For example, hunting in the forests and consumption of bushmeat may increase the risk of contamination. It is necessary to note that individuals traveling to Africa may become the hosts of the condition and cause outbreaks in other areas. Thus, the lack of awareness of the possible risks of contamination is a significant factor contributing to the spread of the disease.

Healthy People 2020

Currently, the cases of the disease are reported in Africa. For example, in August 2018, the outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the one that happened in May 2018 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018a). One of the objectives of Healthy People 2020 is to improve global health and national safety by the implementation of prevention and control strategies, as well as detection of global diseases (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018a) note that the measures to control the spread of the disease are performed. They include providing technical means for surveillance, infection control, laboratory testing, contact tracing, and data management. Moreover, the U.S. government provides assistance in logistics and vaccination in affected areas. It means that currently, the actions aimed to control Ebola virus disease correspond to Healthy People 2020 objectives.

Conclusion

Ebola virus disease is a severe condition that may cause adverse symptoms and result in death. The mortality rate for the illness is high, which means that it is vital to control its spread and prevent cases of contamination. The virus is transmitted through body fluids, infected materials and medical equipment, and contact with body organs. Possible prevention methods include vaccination, avoiding contact with ill individuals, and proper personal hygiene.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). . Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018a). . Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018b). . Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018c). . Web.

Kaur, D., Sachdeva, S., Jha, D., & Sulania, A. (2017). Ebola virus disease in the light of epidemiological triad. Tropical Journal of Medical Research, 20. Web.

Rivera, A., & Messaoudi, I. (2015). Pathophysiology of Ebola virus infection: Current challenges and future hopes. ACS Infectious Diseases, 1(5), 186-197. Web.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Global health: Objectives. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Epidemiology: Ebola Virus and Healthy People 2020." May 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/epidemiology-ebola-virus-and-healthy-people-2020/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Epidemiology: Ebola Virus and Healthy People 2020'. 27 May.

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