Revisiting the Ebola Virus

Ms. Norsihka Cassy Noel Dlima

Research engineer A*star,

Singapore

 

Zaire ebolavirus, most frequently known as the Ebola virus has been one of the most lethal and highly pathogenic micro-organism that has infected humans. The virion surface has exposed ebolavirus glycoproteins on them. These surface proteins play an important role in helping the virus attach itself to the host cell resulting in catalysis of membrane fusion (Jeffrey, et.al, 2010). The overall molecular structure and architecture is the first near complete structure of the filovirus glycoprotein.

Figure1. Illustrative depiction of the ebolavirus structure (Majid, et.al. 2016).


This virus was first recognised in 1976 near the Ebola River now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. There have been more 20 outbreaks of disease in Africa since its essential identification (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2014). The magnitude of these outbreaks has only increased in recent times (Bray, 2014). The latest outbreak which occurred in the West African Region has affected a vast number of people as compared to previous outbreaks (Frieden, et.al. 2014). The figures of the number people affected may actually undermine the situation due to poorly developed healthcare systems and lack of infrastructure. A few cases have popped up in the United states of America drawing international attention towards this virus.


The main modes of transmission include direct contact with a symptomatic patient’s body fluids like blood, urine, saliva etc. It can also be contracted by being exposed to the virus from wild animals via hunting or butchering. The incubation period of this virus ranges from 2-21 days. The onset of the disease begins with fever, chills, sever headaches, a strong feeling od discomfort coupled with muscle aches. The initial symptoms of this viral disease may be confused with other diseases like malaria, yellow fever or other infectious diseases. Other gastro intestinal manifestations like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may develop several days after the initial symptoms appear (Dixon, et.al. 2014). Haemorrhaging isn’t present in all patients however it can present itself throughout the course of the disease in form of bruises as well as form the mucosa. This disease is diagnosed using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) other immunoassays. It detectable in the patient’s sera 3 – 10 from the initial presentation of the symptoms (Bray, 2014). There is no current cure or specific treatment for the Ebola virus disease. Fluid and electrolyte management and special maintenance of the circulatory system is required. The use of any procedure or medication that may increase the risk of Haemorrhaging should be avoided at all costs (Bell, et.al. 2008). Transfusion to replace coagulation factors and platelets maybe required (Peters, et.al. 2010). Patients after recovery should be educated about the risks of sexual transmission of the virus via semen for up to 3 months post recovery.


As mentioned above there are no approved therapies research conducted on macaques which included administering them with a cocktail of antibodies targeting the virion surface glycoproteins was initiated (Qui, et.al. 2014). 20However, controlled studies are needed to evaluate these therapies and many another novel treatment options. Drastic measures must be taken to curb the transmission of this highly potent and lethal virus. The data from current and past outbreaks can improve our understanding of the virus and also help in developing better strategies to cope with this epidemic.

544 Words.


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