Since March 2014, Africa is plagued by an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Where similar smaller outbreaks of Ebola have occurred in Africa in the past, this outbreak has already affected multiple countries and unfortunately the number of victims is increasing exponentially. On this site you can see the number of affected patients. These statistics are updated a few times a week following the WHO releases. Although to date, in absolute numbers few people have died yet, this epidemic has the potential to make more casualties than AIDS.
It is suspected that the real number of victims of the current Ebola outbreak is many times higher than these WHO figures. This is because of the low quality health care and distrust herein. In large parts of Africa it causes many infected people to not report themselves to hospitals or clinics. Unfortunately, this increases the spread of Ebola even faster. Let's hope that science wil soon find a working drug. To date only small scale medical results have been achieved with the experimental serum ZMapp, which still is not suitable for mass production. Due to the lack of our governments taking action, the Ebola epidemic has already hit other continents, including the densely populated Europe and the USA.
The following listed companies in the USA are currently working to develop a vaccine that can potentially cure or prevent an infection with the Ebola virus: BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: BCRX, Medicine: BCX4430) NanoViricides Inc. (NYSE: NNVC, Drug Trials), Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ: TKMR, Medicine: TKM-Ebola), NewLink Genetics Corporation (NASDAQ: NLNK, Drug Trials). Hopefully one of these companies will quickly find a breakthrough in the treatment of this terrible disease.
Background information about the Ebolavirus
Ebola, or as the official name Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a serious viral disease in humans and primates, caused by the Ebola virus. The name comes from the Ebola river in Congo, where the disease was documented for the first time in 1976. On average 50% to 90% of people who become infected die, but this rate varies per outbreak.
One may become infected by Ebola through contact with blood or body fluids of an infected animal. When people become infected, it is also possible to spread through human body fluids or blood of the infected person. While some think that spreading Ebola is only possible during the period that the victim exhibits symptoms, some bats can carry the Ebola virus without becoming ill. Also, contamination can be spread by contact with sperm up to over 3 months after a patient has been declared cured. Even spreading Ebola through infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients is possible.
The first symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, sore throat, feeling of cathing a flu. After a number of days, symptoms of the gastro-intestinal tract such as for diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and dysphagia may occur. Afterwards, internal bleeding and organ failure may occur. After 10 days the situation will have to improve, otherwise the patient dies. The physical health of person before infection and genetic predisposition also determines the chance of recovery or if someone will become infected at all.
To date, there has no medicine been found yet to heal Ebola. The spread of this disease is further complicated because people only start to show the first symptoms after 2 to 21 days after they become infected. Poor hygiene and eating infected animals are the reason that Ebola has so far only emerged on a large scale in some regions of West Africa. Due to the current increased population density and increased mobility of the people on Earth, the virus has already spread worldwide. Since October 2014 international aid is finally starting to fight Ebola on a larger scale, the increase in the number of new cases slowly decreases.