In 2013, the worst Ebola outbreak in history began in Guinea and caused panic around the globe. Formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease (EVD) caused death in 50 percent of all patients who contracted the virus. Although, mortality rates range from 25 percent to 90 percent in the most widely affected areas, especially West Africa. In the US, multiple health care providers with Ebola received extensive IV therapy and managed to have a successful recovery. However, this level and quantity of care is not widely available in the most heavily affected regions, and successful management of the disease relies upon preventing the spread of the disease.
A Vaccine For Ebola?
On May 22, 2015, the acclaimed medical journal, the Lancet, published additional information about the development of a Ebola vaccine in Guinea. However, garnering attention to this matter proved difficult as documenting the success of the vaccine against the disease required an assessment of those most likely to be infected. The trial focused on testing the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was a product of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the pharmaceutical giant, Merck.
How Does the Ebola Vaccine Work?
The Ebola vaccine used a portion of an Ebola virus with another less-destructive virus to give the immune system the opportunity to develop antibodies to the Ebola virus. Basically, vaccines expose the body to the virus without actually giving the virus to the person. When the immune system creates these antibodies, it creates a memory-map of how to manufacturer such antibodies. Therefore, future exposure to a live virus would immediately trigger an immune response.
Who Was Studied?
The study began by identifying 100 patients with the Ebola virus. Afterwards, researchers gave the vaccine to 2,014 close contacts of these infected individuals, which included family members and caregivers. The majority of the vaccine recipients never developed Ebola, even though they were exposed to it in quantities large enough to reasonably assume the virus would be transmitted. 16 individuals did develop Ebola, but it remains unclear if they were already suffering from the disease before receiving the vaccine.
With the go-ahead from the World Health Organization, workers on the frontlines of the Ebola outbreak received the vaccination following the study. The results appear to be staggering, and the World Health Organization has called the vaccine, “a game changer.” Although, the virus was originally identified more than 40 years ago, nothing has ever been able to successful halt the transmission of the virus. In areas of the Ebola outbreak, cases of the vaccine were used up within 10 days of arrival, reports BBC News.
With an enormous mountain of death from Ebola, West Africa, as well as much of the world, has felt the shadow of fear come over their homes. In the US, we watched as the contents of an entire apartment were carried off for disposal. Fortunately, the nightmare may soon be over as the new Ebola vaccine continues to restore light to areas where Ebola strikes.
What Does Ebola Cause?
Ebola remains a hemorrhagic fever. Upon infection, the body begins to lose its ability to function properly. In some cases, internal and external bleeding may occur, which causes death, essentially, through massive blood loss. Ebola’s primary symptoms include the following:
- Tiredness and Fatigue
- Muscle Pain
- Sore Throat
- Reduced Kidney and Liver Function, commonly recognized by yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.
Transmission of Ebola
Ebola has an incubation period of two to 21 days, e.g. transmission of the virus occurs at day one, and symptoms appear between two and 21 days later. The virus is primarily contracted direct contact with the bodily fluids of others with the virus. So long as the person with the virus has Ebola in their blood, they remain infection. For those who survive the virus, specifically men, the virus may be transmitted through semen. However, evidence has not shown recovering women may pass the virus on through vaginal secretion. Ultimately, the only way to be safe is preventing the transmission of Ebola in the first place.