As I described in my last post, the World Health Organization has declared that the Ebola crisis has ended. I figured now would be a great time to describe a brief history of the Ebola Virus and what the scientific community is doing to protect us from the next outbreak.
- The first reported cases of Ebola in humans occurred in 1976 in a remote village near the Ebola River in Zaire.
- Bats are the natural animal-host of the Ebola virus, and are able to carry the virus without getting sick.
- There are five versions of the Ebola virus in the wild, four of which can infect and sicken humans.
- Prior to the most recent outbreak beginning in 2014, the previous largest outbreak sickened 425 people and killed 225 people. The most recent outbreak sickened over 28,000 people, and killed over 11,000.
- Ebola is spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or medical supplies used to treat Ebola patients. There is some evidence that Ebola can also be transmitted sexually through semen, though this link is not yet solidified.
- There are no treatments for Ebola, and patients who are diagnosed with Ebola are given supportive therapy to keep them alive, and allow their immune system to fight against the virus.
- There are no approved vaccines for Ebola, but two trial vaccines were examined during the most recent outbreak and look promising.
- If an individual has survived an Ebola infection, they are estimated to have antibodies for at least 10 years, protecting them from future infections of the same strain of Ebola.