Since I have been receiving more and more requests from concerned friends, acquaintances and family members regarding the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, I have decided to give you a brief overview and my assessment of the situation.
What is Ebola?
The term Ebola, incidentally a river in the DR Congo and namesake of the whole story, is used synonymously for the Ebola virus and the associated Ebola fever.
As many may have read, the virus is a member of the Filoviridae family. “Filum” is Latin and aptly describes the morphology of these viruses: they are filiform and look a little like very small worms.
What disease does it trigger?
The Ebola fever caused by these viruses is a so-called hemorrhagic fever, and after an incubation period of approx. 2 – 21 days (after 42 days, ie twice the incubation period one is considered cured according to WHO guidelines), the first symptoms resemble normal flu. However, these symptoms worsen over time and then lead to death from sepsis with multiple organ failure in about 50% of cases via the classic internal and external bleeding. (Depending on the type of virus, the mortality rate increases to an incredible 90%!)
How can you protect yourself?
Best protection: do not fly to West Africa. Avoid acquaintances who have been there and feel sick, and who must be sent to the hospital if they have not already been caught at the airport.
The virus is transmitted ONLY through direct contact from person to person and only when the disease has already broken out. And also only through direct contact with body fluids and contaminated utensils, such as syringes, gloves, etc. Not through the air, through drinking water, etc.
Nevertheless, there are also first rays of hope when it comes to therapy:
What does the therapy look like?
There is hardly any remedy for viral infections, even in the case of the Ebola virus. The therapy is only a symptomatic therapy in which the fever is controlled, the fluid and electrolyte balance is kept in mind. Our immune system has to do the rest.
Will there be therapy options or even vaccination in the future?
It actually looks pretty good there. The first, experimental therapeutic agent is well on the way to market maturity.
The Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory is also working on a vaccine called VSV-EBOV (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/canada-offers-experimental-ebola-vaccine-vsv-ebov-to-west-africa- 1.2734681)
Research is also making good progress, as more money is finally flowing. See for example here http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/researchers-discover-proteins-block-both-hiv-and-ebola-virus-release
or here http://www.medicaldaily.com/ebola-cure-search-doctors-expose-viruss-deadly-anti-immune-weapons-protein-disables-humans-297840.
Nevertheless, it can and will take up to 5 years before ZMapp, for example, can come onto the market.
Will there be a global pandemic?
My assessment: no!
1. Run the measures coordinated by the WHO at full speed and already show, as in Nigeria, first successes (http://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/diagnose/ebola-in-nigeria-so-hat-der -state-the-outbreak-dammed-a-998134.html)
2. Most of the victims or patients are poor West Africans who have no way of getting on a plane and infecting healthy people on other continents. In addition, more and more airports arriving from the countries concerned are being checked for an increased body temperature and, if necessary, immediately isolated.
Therefore I recommend: stay relaxed! 😉
If you are interested in the topic and / or have questions about current studies, feel free to leave me a comment!