Ebola can be asymptomatic for weeks, it has emerged.

Aug 03, 2014, 10:24 AM

Ebola can be asymptomatic for weeks, it has emerged.

‘The Ebola virus has an incubation period of 4 to 16 days. The onset is sudden and harsh. Infected persons develop fever, severe headaches and muscle aches, and loss of appetite. Within a few days the virus causes a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is marked by both blood clots and hemorrhaging. In the case of Ebola fever, clots are concentrated in the liver, spleen, brain, and other internal organs, forcing capillaries to bleed into surrounding tissue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea with blood and mucus, conjunctivitis, and sore throat soon follow. A maculopapular rash (discoloured elevations of the skin) appears on the trunk and quickly spreads to the limbs and head. The patient is then beset by spontaneous bleeding from body orifices and any breaks in the skin, such as injection sites, and within the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and internal organs. Death is usually brought on by hemorrhaging, shock, or renal failure and occurs within 8 to 17 days.’ ("Ebola." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012.) According to the Oxford English dictionary the phrase Ebola Fever entered the English language in 1976. It was named after a river located in the northern basin of the Congo of central Africa (Encyclopaedia Britannica), the northerly Ebola river, headstream of the Mongala river which itself is a tributary of the famous Congo River, all of which are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Wikipedia). Wikipedia places the Ebola river at: 3°19′24″N 20°57′38″E. Oxford describes Ebola, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever as “an infectious, and generally fatal viral disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica calls the Ebola virus a close relative of the Marburg virus. The Marburg virus was discovered in 1967 while records show that Ebola first attacked human beings in 1976. Marburg and Ebola haemorrhagic fever are the only members of the Filoviridae viral family to affect human beings. The same Ebola virus is known for attacking gorillas, chimpanzees, pigs and our own species, humanity. Ebola is differentiated by deep fever, profuse haemorrhaging and rash. Encyclopaedia Britannica states that in humans certain strains have fatality rates of 50 to 90%.

Just as Ebola itself is named after the place it was first discovered wreaking harm upon a population, the Ebola river: the five known strains of the deadly virus are named after the places where it emerged. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: ‘Ebola-Zaire causes death in 80 to 90 percent of cases, and Ebola-Sudan causes death in 50 percent of cases. Ebola-Côte d'Ivoire, found in dead chimpanzees in the Taï National Park in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire, can infect humans, although only two human cases have been documented, and both individuals survived. Ebola-Reston, which was originally discovered in laboratory monkeys in Reston, Va., in 1989, was also detected in laboratory monkeys in other locations in the United States in 1990 and 1996, as well as in Siena, Italy, in 1992. All the monkeys infected with Ebola-Reston have been traced to one export facility located in the Philippines, although the origin of the strain has not been identified. Similar to Ebola-Côte d'Ivoire, Ebola-Reston does not appear to cause death in humans. The fifth strain, Ebola-Bundibugyo, was discovered in November 2007 in an outbreak in Bundibugyo district, near the border of Uganda and Congo (Kinshasa); it causes death in about 25 percent of cases.’ (Same article as quoted above.).

The first time I reported on the Ebola virus was on 6 January 2009. The epidemic had broken out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing 13 and infecting 40. Angola shut the border quickly for fear it would spread. I reported how swiftly diseases cross African borders. At the time I was writing that article a disease from a Nami...