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Jul 30, 2014

Let us know more of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

This year 2014 started with accidents or vanishing of Malaysian Airlines (no one knows where !!) and recent sinking of a ferry carrying school children heading for Jeju Island, South Korea. We were trying to forget this sad event, now we are bombarded with news about Ebola Outbreaks in some African countries, mainly Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. I am particularly interested in this news because of my personal interest scanning anything that are emerging and re - emerging diseases in literature or social media.


Though we may think, these African countries are far  away from us, so we may plainly say, "Why do we have to worry about it?" On contrary, we need to get worried. First, humanity is suffering and dying from this disease. Second, we can not rule out that this disease may spread to other continent if ecology favors it circulation. I feel, therefore, the argument, " We are geographically distant so we are not at risk" no longer holds true !! To support my point, we can talk of recent cholera outbreak in Haiti that preceded a major earthquake that ravaged whole of the country in the year 2010. This was one of the worst disaster of massive scale that human kind has to face and deal with. This natural disaster affected thousands of family losing their near and dear with high death tolls.

Once Haiti was hit by cholera outbreak, the detailed epidemiological investigation(s) along with massive humanitarian relief activities was carried out by various international organizations and universities. It was reported that the bacterium was introduced into the country by those who actually came their for humanitarian assistance in the country. This brought about lots of academic as well as political debate, which is still haunting United Nations. Some academicians asserts that the organism was introduced in there from Nepal based on genotyping study.

Let us not go into dispute and argue who brought this bacterium or who did not and play political game. My main point here is - we are now living in a global village. Our travel time is much reduced, it is also said humorously that "Nowadays that we can have dinner in Asia and Toilet in Europe!!' Partly, this is a fact, we may like it or not !! Another popular saying that floats among disease detectives is that "lethal organisms do not need passport like we humans need!!" and to add some experts even say, " Some of them even evade immigration very easily" This two statements really stress that no body is out of danger. Infectious diseases can travel across continents in disguise.We have to be extra vigilant more than ever.

Ebola virus (source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is caused by Ebola virus (EV). This virus is named after Ebola river in Zaire (now DRC) and first reported in 1976. There are five species of  EV and are named after their place of origin: BundiBugyo, Sudan, Reston, Ivory coast and Zaire. This disease spread through close contacts with
blood, secretions and other bodily fluids. It is said that EVD is highly contagious and fatal. This virus circulates in animals population - Bats and primates such as Chimpanzee and even deer. Human are accidental host. (Please look up at he EV Ecology below). There is no medicine or vaccines for this disease. Some experts say that this is the result of human economic activities interfering with natural habitats. So, this is unfortunate, the people have to face this deadly diseases on top of economic hardship in low economic setting. This outbreak this year has caught many international newspapers' headline, however, I am interested to understand the gravity of this disease outbreak myself.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/resources/virus-ecology.html

Another thought that I am playing with for these few days -" What does this outbreak means to other countries in Indian subcontinent like Nepal?" As I read in MSF blogs, EV circulates in fruit bats as its natural host and these bats are found in this continent as well. As of now, we have no report of EVD here. We should remember, there are similar kind of viral illnesses linked with fruit bats that feeds on cell sap of a tree. This are Nipah and hendra virus. These viruses have been reported from Bangladesh (to my knowledge), which is just few km away from Eastern border of Nepal. Therefore, my only concern is whether this EV can get introduced in this geographical region? I need to better understand this disease through literature. My only wishful assumption is EVD  is still geographically at distance and may be, the ecosystem here in our continent does not favors for EVD to spread. To understand more of Ebola, please visit: 

  1. WHO website - http://www.who.int/csr/don/archive/disease/ebola/en/
  2. CDC website - http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/
  3. PLOS Neglected Tropical dieases - http://www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003056



Anuj in Himalayas

Hi i am connecting disqus with my blog for healthy interaction and open dialogue