Thousands of people in West of Africa have died of Ebola, a mysterious disease escalated swiftly and still there is no remedy available for it. An old Chinese citation says, “If you know your foes and know yourself, you can win every combat without fear of the upshot.” But here, we have a converse situation in which we don’t know our enemy and as a consequence of this, we even don’t have warhead to cope with it efficiently. That’s why its aftermath is more horrible as the death toll is touching more than 4033 innocent and precious lives due to this deadly, draconian rival known as Ebola virus disease (EVD), its inception was noted around 1976, according to a claim made by WHO. Its name came from Ebola River situated in a hamlet, in vicinities of West of Africa.
On August 8 in Geneva Convention, Ebola had been declared by World Health Organisation (WHO) as “one of the most virulent diseases” with a piece of subsequent appeal before international community for monetary and technical assistance. WHO had also suggested a modicum of instruction for the world to identify, investigate and administer this outbreak if it arises in other parts of the world. So far West Africa is amongst mostly effected landscape. A bunch of nations from advanced countries responded their call at once and helping the world to overshadow this outbreak. But at the same time, medical authorities admitted Ebola’s spread across West Africa as “inevitable”. Only a small part of the African continent exaggerated thus far, but we cannot afford to miscalculate, as this epidemic have the capacity to become a pandemic. Due to its virulence its fatality rate is as high as 90 %. And so far, no licence medication or cure invented due to earnest and out-of-the-box nature of the outburst.
Conflicting with other viruses, Ebola doesn’t have dormant stage or window period in which virus remains still but increase in their numbers itself and hence, they produce millions of copies in the blood. This distinctive feature of Ebola makes it more gruesome and it can expire its host not more than a week. And an associated horrific truth is that, it has no vaccination, medication nor we have any kind of therapy for its treatment hitherto. Because this virus replicates in blood, hence it affects every part of the body and every organ where blood goes. This property does escalating it fatality rate. It also dislocate the immune system specifically the platelets, so the clotting functioning of blood drops off tremendously which at the end, causes both internal and external bleeding. Therefore, plenty of blood will be lost during the whole course. Researchers are working tirelessly to spot out its life span but thus far, we don’t know where it came from.
If we talk about the symptoms of EVD, it will comprise emergence of fever, vomiting, chest pain, fatigue, pain in muscle, headache and sore throat. These indicators are widespread in many other diseases such as malaria, typhoid and meningitis. Because of this reason, EVD often blends with other diseases and is understood erroneously, followed by rashes and allergy. In bulk of the cases, these symptoms appeared during the time of 2 to 21 days after the activation of virus. In a unique case followed by identification, Ebola virus was isolated after 61 days from patient that was previously infected in the lab. Ebola could be diagnosed; many lab techniques had been practiced throughout the world. All praises for the moderations that we are able to eradicate such types of lethal assassins.
For the healing of EVD, still there is no precise course of action exists. Infected patients are isolated from the rest with the help of healthcare workers. The unauthorised treatment begins with hydrating the patients to maintain their oxygen demands and blood pressure. Notwithstanding the fact that all relevant entities working with the patients are instructed to use the impermeable gowns, gloves, masks and goggles. But still due to soaring jeopardy, many health workers are also been reported to be infected with Ebola virus.
According to WHO Ebola is being spread through a natural host of Ebola virus in Africa through their secretions and dead remains of these animals. Ebola virus can survive out of the body for a few days and in that time disinfectants, heat, sunlight and detergents are suspected of its killers. It is said by one epidemiologist that ‘outbreaks usually spreads due to deprived hygienic control mechanism within the hospitals and scarcities of basic essentials. We have a reason to believe that, may be in future this epidemic can be transformed into  pandemic via travelling of the patients from one country to another and also by making touch with fellow passengers. This shouldn’t be missed that Ebola is not an airborne disease. It transmits through direct contact with body fluids of the infected person either by the blood, semen, used utensils or indirectly by needles and other equipment which is being polluted by the patient.
In the absence of proper authentic treatment, there is a dire need to spread awareness among the masses through print as well as electronic media. Social media can also play an important and defining role in raising consciousness among mankind. Defensive measures for everyone are the only way to diminish its stretch.
Ebola is a new threat world is going to face soon and we have no ammo to cope with it. Pakistan is already facing different lethal diseases like polio, dengue and malaria.
God forbids if we come close to Ebola threat, we are not ready at all. Although, it seems that there are very remote possibilities of Ebola transmission across the continents but history is explaining that leniency has led to pandemics quite disturbing. So let’s at least bother to do whatever science tells us to do; prognostic measures are something to go with. May God help us in this difficult time.
—The writers Dr Ishrat Naveed and Aleem ur Rehman are assistant professor and student of BS Biotech at International Islamic University, Islamabad, respectively.