Ebola Virus - WHO declared ' a global emergency' - Seeker's Thoughts

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Friday, 19 July 2019

Ebola Virus - WHO declared ' a global emergency'

Beni is the new hotspot of Ebola, and since August 1, 2018, the virus officially has killed nearly 1700 people while 25,00 fell ill in the democratic republic of Congo. In some part, the virus’s impact has reduced and in other new areas, the virus has spread.

This is the fifth time that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global emergency. The earlier occasions were in February 2016 for Zika outbreaks in the Americas, August 2014 for Ebola outbreaks in western Africa, the spread of polio in May 2014, and the H1N1 pandemic in April 2009.

Why is Ebola Virus so deadly for nations?
There was a single imported case of Ebola virus in Goma city of Congo, where the population is two million.  The case finally triggered so much that many people died and fell sick, and the world health organization has to declare the ‘health emergency’.
Congo shares a border with Uganda, Ebola monitoring took place at the border and Uganda was considered what WHO calls “very high risk”
Why does WHO declare ‘The global emergency’?
Declaring an event as a global emergency is meant to stop the spread of the pathogen to other countries and to ensure a coordinated international response.

Challenges in tackling Ebola
Lack of pro-active approach
There have been several challenges in interrupting the virus transmission cycle and containing the spread — reluctance in the community, attacks on health workers, delays in case-detection and isolation, and challenges in contact-tracing. 





However, the situation has improved from gloomy to better due to the availability of the vaccination.

No Licensed vaccination
Though the vaccine has not been licensed in any country, the ring vaccination strategy where people who come into contact with infected people, as well as the contacts of those contacts are immunized, has helped.

 Of the nearly 94,000 people at risk who were vaccinated till March 25, 2019, only 71 got infected compared with 880 unvaccinated who got infected. The vaccine had 97.5% efficacy; a majority of those who got infected despite being vaccinated were high-risk contacts.

Vaccination Shortage
Owing to vaccine shortage, the WHO’s expert group on immunization has recommended reducing the individual dose to meet the demand.
What is equally important is for the G7 countries to fulfill their promise to the WHO to contain the spread.

Shortage of Funds
The agency received only less than half of the $100 million that was requested to tackle the crisis. The global emergency now declared may probably bring in the funding

What is the Ebola virus?
Ebola virus disease (EVD), is a viral hemorrhagic fever, is a severe often fatal illness in a human. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spread in the human population through human-to-human transmission. 

Fruit bats are the natural host of this virus, and it spreads through contact with body fluids of infected persons such as blood, urine, and salvia. It also spreads through sexual transmission. It is a zoonotic disease. 

It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name.

In 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa was the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus first discovered in 1976. There were more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It also spread in countries, starting in Guinea then moving across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Symptoms: High fever, bleeding, and central nervous system damage are the symptoms. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. However, in past outbreaks case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90%

Treatment: There is yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including immune therapies, blood products and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. An experimental Ebola vaccine are rVSV-ZEBOV is proved to highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea conducted in 2015.

Later, the World Health Organization has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola called rVSV-ZEBOV maybe 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus. The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

How it can be prevented or controlled?
Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures (including vaccination) that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. There can be several factors which can be helpful to control the infection.

1. Reducing the risk of wildlife- to – human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. The animal should be handled with gloves and mask and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products like meat should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
2. Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids.
3. Reducing the risk of possible sexual transmission based on further analysis of ongoing research and consideration by the WHO advisory group on the Ebola virus disease response. 
WHO recommends that survivors of Ebola virus disease practice safe sex and hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen tests negative twice for Ebola virus. Contact with body fluids should be avoided and washing with soap and water is recommended.

What is the WHO's concern about the Ebola virus?
WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreak by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting rat -risk countries to developed preparedness plans. The document provides overall guidance for control of Ebola outbreaks.
When an outbreak is detected WHO responds by supporting surveillance, community engagement, case management, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logical support and training and assistance with safe practices.






Conclusion 

Such viruses are severe and life-threatening. There have been hundreds of deaths due to Ebola virus. WHO should take urgent measures like it did declare a global emergency to save people from such viruses.
 Spreading awareness would be a better way to curb death rates. Not just Ebola there are various types of dangerous viruses are spreading in the different parts of the world. The government should be on high alert to fight such diseases and vaccination should be available in a pro-active manner.








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