The famine in some regions of equatorial Africa, the habit of going to the forest in search of food, cultural practices in some African populations and the inadequate management of infected people in villages and health centers, contributed to breaking the wild cycle of the virus. Ebola and thus promote the spread of this zoonosis among human beings, whose symptoms appear 2 to 21 days after infection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the Ebola virus as a serious acute viral disease characterized by the sudden onset of fever, severe weakness, and muscle pain, headache and throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes , kidney and liver dysfunction and bleeding.
This disease was detected in 1976, in two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara (Sudan) and Yambuku, near the Ebola River (Democratic Republic of the Congo, former Zaire). Fruit bats, particularly Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti and Myonycteris torquata, are possibly the natural reservoirs of the Ebola virus.
The virus is transmitted from bats to gorillas, chimpanzees, or other primate species, and then to humans when ingested as food. Rodents and antelopes possibly become infected when they consume food (fruits and plants) contaminated with saliva or bat droppings. Food, hygiene and culture Carlos Jiménez, virologist at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the National University (Medvet-UNA) commented that contagion in humans originates from practices such as subsistence hunting of sick or dead monkeys that they consume as food. Contact with the fluids from the corpse and the consumption of undercooked meat leads to a zoonotic event, in which the virus infects humans.
"Then, the infected person transmits it to other humans through direct contact, or through secretions and excretions (blood, saliva, semen, vomit, feces, sweat and urine) thus initiating the epidemic cycle.
Furthermore, this virus has the peculiarity of passing through intact skin or with small wounds (microtraumas), or entering via the conjunctiva or orally with contaminated food or poorly cooked meats, ”Jiménez stressed.
Another triggering factor in the spread between people are cultural practices, such as mortuary rituals where very close contact with the deceased is encouraged, to which is added the increase in populations and the lack of properly organized health centers.
“In many of these regions there are no isolation units or basic protective equipment for the personnel, there is a lack of basic materials and medicines for treating the sick.
In the end, the person dies from multi-organ damage and hypovolemic shock caused by hemorrhages and dehydration, ”Jiménez said.
He explained that for the treatment, specific antibodies are administered to the virus, which are capable of neutralizing it, as well as fluids and electrolytes to compensate for the loss of fluid in the body.
In the short term, it is expected to have antiviral substances and vaccines that allow the treatment and prophylaxis of this disease.