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Ebola virus threat puts India on high alert
The Ebola virus, which has killed 729 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria this year, has put Indian health officials on high alert. The health officials have alerted all airports to screen passengers arriving from the affected areas before entering the country.

The Indian troops who are deployed in west and central Africa for UN peacekeeping operations have been put on high alert against the Ebola virus, because of the deadliest outbreak of the disease in that region.

About Ebola virus

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%. Fruit bats of the 'Pteropodidae' family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. It is part of a small group of viruses that kills infected people within a couple of weeks. It has a very high mortality rate.

Transmission of Ebola virus

Ebola virus is transmitted through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

Symptoms of Ebola virus

EVD is a viral illness, which is often characterized by:

  • sudden onset of fever

  • intense weakness

  • muscle pain

  • sore throat

  • headache

All these symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding, as reported by WHO.

Diagnosis of Ebola virus

Diagnosis is done by different types of laboratory tests like:

  • Antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

  • antigen detection tests

  • reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay

  • serum neutralization test

  • electron microscopy

  • virus isolation by cell culture.

But a major drawback in diagnosis of this virus is that the incubation period for the virus is 21 days and infected travellers can slip in without displaying symptoms, which beats the purpose of using scanners to detect fever.

Vaccine and treatment of Ebola virus

Their is no vaccine for EVD. Many vaccines are being tested, but till now none are available for clinical use.

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