The Malian government announced Friday, November 28, 2014 that a person with Ebola was successfully treated on its soil. This is the first case of healing in a country where another confirmed case is still being processed. “This person was treated effectively. It has been tested twice, it is negative”, said the Minister of Health at a press conference.
In addition to this, health officials denied the contamination of a suspected case. A total of 285 people who have had contact with the virus carriers were under medical supervision.
Slowing the spread
Mali, the last country affected by the epidemic spreading mainly in West Africa, reported seven deaths on its territory due to Ebola: a two-year-old girl came from neighboring Guinea, which resulted in no spread, and an Imam who also arrived from Guinea, which contaminated directly or indirectly seven people, five of whom died.
Having started in December 2013 in southern Guinea, the virus has killed nearly 1,300 people in this country, according to the recorded deaths, more than 3,000 in Liberia and about 1,400 in Sierra Leone. According to a comprehensive review of the World Health Organization in November 23, 2014, hemorrhagic fever caused 5689 of a total of 15,935 cases in eight countries. But the fight progresses, resulting into slowing the spread, particularly in Guinea and Liberia.
Ebola in the Middle East
A Saudi returning from Sierra Leone with symptoms similar to those of Ebola died of a heart attack in August 8, 2014, as announced by the Saudi Ministry of Health. The Saudi, who was quarantined in a hospital in Jeddah, will be buried according to Muslim rites, but with precautionary requirements of health authorities worldwide, said the same source. The tests were performed by a laboratory abroad to determine whether the Ebola virus was involved but the department did not report the results.
Saudi authorities had reported the suspected case a day before, noting that Saudi Arabia no longer grants visas to citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since April 2014 due to Ebola cases identified in these countries.
The essentials of Ebola
Ebola virus disease is a type of hemorrhagic fever. It is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, Ebola. Five species of this virus have been identified, four of which can cause human disease, while the fifth does not cause symptoms in primates.
The case fatality rate (number of deaths among people infected) varies between 25% and 90%, depending on the strain. In the current outbreak, it is on average 36%, with a much more serious situation in Guinea (60%), Liberia (42%) and Sierra Leone (22%).
Ebola appeared for the first time in 1976 in Yambuku, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), in a village near the Ebola River, hence the name of the disease.
For thirty-eight years, 25 Ebola fever epidemics have affected the African continent. The virus was first developed in remote villages of Central Africa (DRC, Uganda, Sudan, Gabon), before spreading more recently to the west, in March 2014, first in Guinea and then Sierra Leone and Liberia. The current outbreak is more deadly than the set of all other outbreaks of Ebola combined (1,590 victims).
The first cause of the current outbreaks is still unknown, and the natural hosts of the virus remain unknown, although researchers specifically target fruit bats. The virus was probably introduced into the human population after close contact with infected animals, such as bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, forest antelope and porcupines.
The virus then spreads from person to person by direct contact (skin injuries or mucous membranes) or through body fluids (blood, saliva, sweat, semen, vomit, feces) of infected people. In Africa, the funeral rites, during which relatives and friends of the deceased are in direct contact with the body and perform the mortuary toilet, often play a role in the transmission of the virus. The virus can also be spread through indirect contact with objects such as contaminated needles.
After an incubation period of two to twenty-one days (eight days on average), the disease is often characterized by a sudden onset of fever (greater than or equal to 100°F), intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches and irritation of the throat. These symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, kidney and liver failure and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding.
Both WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) published on their websites the measures and precautions we need to follow to protect ourselves from Ebola. The instructions are based on rigorous preventive measures (regular hand washing, disinfection with alcohol-based gels or solutions, etc.), as well as monitoring the onset of symptoms, including fever. It is recommended not to approach sick or dead bodies within several meters, and for caregivers to wear protective clothing. Contaminated premises and medical equipment must be sterilized and disinfected regularly.