THE QUEEN IS BACK: EBOLA CONGO OUTBREAK

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THE NAMELESS VICTIMS OF THE FAMOUS VIRUS

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“Most Americans know nothing about the African forest, and it seems to them a very scary, spooky dangerous place. I’ve spent a lot of times in the forests of central Africa. I know they are beautiful places that contain a lot of different kind of creatures, including some that carry Ebola.”

-David Quammen 

 

In the eyes of science, the virus of Ebola is almost a perfection. Under the special light of electron microscope, the deadliest virus nowadays appears to be tiny worm that crawls into our world and eats us alive. It is definitely one of the smallest infectious agents that exist but still capable to kill the thousands and as one of the virologist wrote:“80 nanometers in width to about 1000 nanometers in length. To put this in perspective, one red blood cell has the diameter of 10 000 nanometers.” The invisible rider of Epidemic Apocalypse has been,  from its beginning, the scariest microbe and the silent killer  that has never discovered too much from itself. The dark and dangerous beauty and one of the greatest challenges for the microbiology.

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Nobody is like Richard Preston and his courageous team of scientists that  has tried to defeat Ebola in the thriller based on the true story “The Hot Zone” in 1994.  The mankind has been informed for the first time really about the destruction capacity of this filovirus which was named as a  molecular shark in Preston notes:“We don’t really know what Ebola has done in the past, and we don’t know what it might do in the future.” The people can only guess, predict and hope it will not turn to the worst scenario ever. But, the mankind has faced the Ebola and has already paid for its parasite way of thinking and its unstoppable terror against the nature. Ebola has revenged for all and it still does and it will do in the following years, as long as the magical laboratory does not find a clue to kill the virus that multiplies itself faster than any other.

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We all know what is Ebola able to do and how it does that. In one moment of time, the particle of virus is in the blood, the person is infected but still unaware of it and that is how the virus is transmitted in the short period when the organism is fighting the last battle. Everything about viruses is fascinating and about Ebola virus is even more fascinating and amazing. I can’t say I am afraid more than I am impressed and vice versa. Just knowing that the viruses are the only invisible creatures that can switch off and go dead while they are waiting for a right host, make me think about them like about the special exterrestrial species. This fantastic mechanism of survival has been applied on Ebola virus with utter perfection and sank us into the universe without any moral prejudices, with an ultimate fight for existence.

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After the horrible 2014 and Ebola’s wild journey from the heart of Africa into the USA and Europe,  the global health has been endangered as one simple white mouse in the experiment for the purpose of medicaments. The fear from pandemic wind was everywhere and the friends and enemies have worked together to stop the monster and send it back into the rain forests from where  we brought it out. So many people died in the worst suffering, merging into the cream of internal organs. Some have survived but their souls have been forever signed with Ebola virus and they have an unique retinal scar.The Big Mother has been sent back but not for a long time.

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In May 2017, the news are reporting that The Democratic Republic of Congo is affected with new Ebola Outbreak.  The positive cases of Ebola have been tracked and leaded directly to the Bas-Uele province that is located in the northeast of DRC, just on the border of Central African Republic and not far away from South Sudan. Those 400 potential Ebola carriers have been suspected and confirmed that Congo has big risk that must be nationally addressed.  The problem with Africa is lack of medical equipment, skilled experts and infrastructure that would make the approach and response on the crisis easier. The civil conflicts and civil unrest that hit this country and many in Africa just give advantage  to the possibilities of virus to become a real and dangerous outbreak. In this situation, the use of non-licensed vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by pharmaceutical master Merck, could probably help the logistic efforts on the ground. The scientists claim that the drug is 100% effective against one of the five strains of the Ebola virus which would mean it will paralyze the demolition attributes of virus with compelling results.  The vaccine Gam-Evak-Kombi has been generated by Russian researchers and it also could be a candidate for an African savior. So many candidates and solutions and still people are dying because the protocols must be followed and the medical strategies and standards must be fulfilled before the drug is considered as effective or more toxic as virus itself.

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The hot issue about Africa being a target of Ebola virus  renaissance now and then is simply linked to the facts that people over there are not educated about the respect for the rain forests and its own borders. They go deep in the rain forests, they hunt and eat bushmeat and they bring virus back. Everything starts with the patient zero and then comes the chain of bloody transmission. The animals that are natural reservoirs of Ebola virus as sometimes those that have been hunted by locals and have been eaten without any sanitary procedure. The viruses don’t search for us to kill us. We search for them to kill us because we are already killing the Earth. If someone believes that viruses just jump from one species to another with the purpose to clean the surface and cause the epidemics, it must be demystified. There must be a lot of  certain conditions for a virus to cause the epidemics and start the molecular massacre. It takes many years, even centuries before the components of virus are able to be driven as killing pandemic machine.

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The Ebola virus is active in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia too. The virus could be found anywhere and could be carried by anyone. However, the virus is choosing and picking, terrorizing, killing or giving a new life. The dead body is a 5 time more contagious than a living one because the viruses are in rush to find a new home. But, some homes they treat with respect and do not ruin them. That is a phenomenon of an Ebola  survivor. The mystery for science, the blessing for those whose genetic alphabet has confused the Ebola virus strains.

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This virus is not some cheap monster from the first corner, this is an elegant and beautiful murderer that has blurred our perception of our own weakness and vulnerability. The all bad things what we do to the Earth and animals, Ebola virus is doing to us. For the organic  horror  of this volume, some microbes need months or years. Ebola virus needs just a few days and then it is moved to another one. Even if you survive the health breakdown, you will never be the same. Just like the world we are in, the world before and after Ebola.

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “THE QUEEN IS BACK: EBOLA CONGO OUTBREAK”

  1. The conclusion of Sarah’s informative article (specifically, ‘Even if you survive the health breakdown, you will never be the same…’) reminded me of the social and cultural impact of the Ebola virus epidemic of 2014 in Western Africa; which have been significant.

    The epidemic has forced Western Africans to face numerous difficulties, on a daily basis, regarding their traditional norms and practices. In essence, their traditions have been severely disrupted due to the Ebola virus. For instance, Western Africans have had the tendency to remain close to their sick family members to nurse them during illness for centuries. Unfortunately for the Western African communities, many have been encouraged to keep their distance from their infected family members, as potential contact could be fatal. In addition, it is part of their culture to touch the deceased at funerals and for the sister of the deceased’s father to bathe, clean and dress the corpse. Not only is it customary to wash and touch the deceased, but also to kiss those that have passed.

    Specifically, funerals are considered to be major cultural events for families and friends to gather around to celebrate the deceased. More importantly, there is a common bowl used for ritual hand-washing towards the end of the ceremony; including a final kiss or touch on the face, which is to be bestowed on the dead. This is commonly referred to as a ‘compassion touch’. The Wesley Medical Center, Kansas, USA, has confirmed that prohibiting Western African families from performing such rites is a disgrace as it insults the deceased, putting the remaining family in danger. Specifically, it is believed that the dead person’s spirit, will cause harm and bring illness to the family as a result of an improper burial.

    Resistance to Western medicine is considered to be a significant barrier to defeating the Ebola virus, as well. In Sierra Leone, health workers made more progress because health measures were implemented according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, which advises health workers to heed the traditions of the threatened communities when attending to the dead. In many of the Ebola infected areas in Africa, Western medicine is believed either to be ineffective or to be the actual origin of the virus. In other words, there is a belief among the Western African community that Western doctors are intentionally killing their patients with their treatments. A conspiracy theory exclaims that the medical professionals plan to conduct scientific R & D on the corpses.

    Resistance to Western medicine exists also because of the look of the hazmat suits, which are worn by healthcare workers to protect themselves from becoming infected with the Ebola virus. The protective equipment is said to frighten many Western Africans and also believed to be hostile and intimidating to the Western African families.

    In addition, the extraneous interference in the family’s care for the patient diminishes the honour of the patient as well as hindering the family’s duty to provide comfort and care.

    Apart from the fact that traditional Western African healers have been using ritual and herbal remedies for many centuries, the Western African peoples trust these treatments and find the costs more affordable. Traditional procedures include the following: magic, biomedical methods, fasting, dieting, herbal therapies, bathing, massage, as well as surgery. Despite the severe distrust of Western Africans in modern medicine, the Ebola virus has been said to spread rampantly across Western Africa due to a shortage of healthcare workers and limited medical resources and facilities. The unsanitary conditions in Western African have made it easier for Ebola to spread.

    A young girl from Sierra Leone moved to The United States of America in 2008, when she was thirteen years old. She experienced extensive bullying for her obliviousness to North American culture and simply for being the ‘uncivilized’ African. For example, others had asked her if she was becoming accustomed to wearing shoes, since people do not wear shoes in Africa. She was also called names, such as ‘monkey’ and ‘pre-historic’. As a result of this cruelty, she began to believe that North American culture was very cold. She concluded that North American society is ‘extremely individualistic’. This truly made her miss living in Africa ‘where every woman is your mother and every man is your father, where you are never alone, because everyone is family and family is all around you…’

    As of early-2017, the Ebola virus had not reached her home-town back in Sierra Leone. However, she said that her family still living in the countryside claimed that Freetown did not ‘feel like the same place’, anymore. Her aunt had told her that people were not sharing food anymore nor spending time at each other’s houses, as they used, to because of the fear of becoming infected. The girl finds it heart-breaking that people in Sierra Leone have turned to isolation as a way to stay Ebola-free: ‘Ebola has turned us into prisoners in our own country.’

    The Ebola virus, for which the primary host is suspected to be fruit bats, has been linked to bush meat, which is commonly consumed in areas of Western Africa that use it as a protein source. Though primates and other species may be intermediates, evidence suggests people primarily acquire the virus from bats. Hunters shoot, net, scavenge or catapult their prey, and butcher the bats without gloves; being bitten or scratched, and coming in contact with their blood. Efforts to outlaw the sale and consumption of bush meat have been impossible to enforce and have met with suspicion from rural communities. The UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that between 30% and 60% of protein intake in rural households in Western Africa comes from wild meat.

    One major Nigerian newspaper published a report about the widespread view that eating dog meat was a healthy alternative to bush meat. Dog meat was implicated in a June 2015 Liberian outbreak of Ebola, where three villagers who had tested positive for the disease had shared a meal of dog meat.

    As Sarah writes, ‘the world before and after Ebola’…

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  2. Thank you for this informative article, Sarah ! It is truly amazing how the Ebola virus knows how to survive and how to move so quickly to the next host !

    Again, as you described, herein, as well as in so many of your prior articles, the root of these extremely dangerous and deadly viruses is the fact that “humans” know no boundaries and think that they can do whatever they want with impunity ! Not so, says nature !

    In other words, when “humans” infringe on nature’s boundaries by probing into the jungle and rainforests, nature fights back in order to stop the intruders, namely, the pests known as “humans” !

    It is time “humans” leaned that they cannot subjugate all and any animals at will, in order to slaughter them and eat them, without some dire consequences such as in the case of the Ebola virus !

    The time to act is now in order to avoid a cataclysmic end to our world as we know it ! Otherwise, it may be too late and we may be facing what you wrote in your outstanding article, Sarah, “Possible Silent Hill: The world after humans”, January 11, 2017 !

    What an excellent article, Sarah ! We learn so much from each and every one of your articles ! Thank you !

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  3. Thank you, Sam, for an excellent article with informative content. It is really scary that the Ebola virus is highly infectious, and does not have a cure or vaccine at this time. It is also as scary that the virus can be easily transmitted through the direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected human or animal. We as humans have crossed the red lines, and violated the laws of nature, so nature will not be merciful to us. If only human learns from his mistakes.

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