Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment
After an incubation period of 2 - 21 days, Ebola is often characterized by the sudden onset of high fever, weakness, diarrhea, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These symptoms are usually seen within a few days of becoming infected. Within a week, patients experience chest pain, shock and death.
Some people also have vomiting, hiccups, rash, red and itchy eyes, bloody diarrhea, blindness and internal and external bleeding.
How does it spread?
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions,
organs or semen of infected persons so special caution must be
used in handling sharps, needles, etc. Transmission through semen
may occur up to 7 weeks after clinical recovery, as with Marburg
hemorrhagic fever. Health care workers have frequently been infected
while attending patients.
It's host is still unknown
Specialized laboratory tests on blood specimens (which are not commercially available) detect specific antigens or antibodies and/or isolate the virus. These tests present an extreme biohazard and are only conducted under maximum containment conditions.
(Sewage, bulk blood, suctioned fluids, secretions, and excretions should be autoclaved, processed in a chemical toilet, or treated with a 5% chlorine solution for at least 5 minutes in bedpan or commode prior to flushing.)
No specific treatment exists for Ebola hemorrhagic fever, other than supportive therapy.
Mortality is substantial, ranging from 50% - 90%. There should
be minimal handling of the body, with sealing of the corpse in
leak-proof material for prompt burial or cremation.
Survivors may be left with long-term challenges such as blindness, hearing loss, and other neuralgic and eye problems.
USAMRIID's Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbood; Fourth Edition February 2001; pages 9-10; http://usamriid.detrick.army.mil/education/bluebook/bluebook.pdf
Federation of American Scientists; http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/bw/agent.htm
Virtual Naval Hospital: Treatment of Biological Warfare Agent Casualties; http://www.vnh.org/FM8284/index.html
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