As recent as 2021, scattered outbreaks of the frightening Ebola virus have been detected in the Democratic People’s Republic of the Congo. Outbreaks in February of 2021 saw the region of North Kivu report several deaths. In June of 2020, the region experienced one of its worst outbreaks yet, with 3,470 cases reported, resulting in a staggering 2,287 deaths.
The Ebola virus is extremely deadly in humans, leading to between twenty-five percent and ninety percent of people who get infected dying from their symptoms. The disease is extremely efficient at converting the body’s cells into factories to churn out more Ebola viruses, and symptoms can develop as early as two days after infection.
Ebola is a virus that is thought to be spread in nature by fruit bats. Fruit bats, unlike most animals that can carry the virus, don’t appear to be affected by it. This makes regions with large fruit bat populations very dangerous for humans, as Ebola outbreaks can be terrifying and deadly.
Ebola is typically spread between humans by coming into contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. The virus does not appear to be capable of airborne spread: a person needs to come into direct contact with the blood or another bodily fluid of someone infected by the virus.
Between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus, patients can begin to develop symptoms including muscle pain, headaches, fever, sore throat, and rashes. This can progress to more serious symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and even reduced functionality of the liver and kidneys.
In extreme cases, Ebola disease can lead to internal and external bleeding. The virus is extremely efficient at causing harm to the human body; in serious cases, the body’s connective tissue is broken down by the virus as cells are converted to create more Ebola. Death from the disease is typically a result of shock from fluid loss.
Regions like North Kavu have to approach outbreaks of Ebola with extreme caution. Measures like contact tracing, rapid detection, and quarantine of infected patients are critical to intercepting the virus before it can spread outside of a local zone.
Widespread transmission of Ebola could potentially pose a threat to the world’s population. Ebola is thought to cause death in roughly fifty percent of patients, making it one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, and a matter of serious concern for disease centers around the world.