Ebola - A Crash Course


“First let me say that I feel that this Ebola crisis is terrible and I feel for the victims of this disease and their families. Whatever I say in a rant or if my opinion comes out in my writing, please remember that it is most likely because this issue is either something that angers me or am otherwise passionate about; I do not mean any disrespect to any persons involved directly or indirectly with this potential pandemic…” - Steve Daly

Ebola - the Science:

Colored image of the Ebola Virus - Courtesy of DailyMail.co.uk

The CDC defines Ebola as: Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.”


        Symptoms of Ebola include

  • Fever

  • Severe headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Weakness

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal (stomach) pain

  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.


        Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses has not yet been identified, the manner in which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, researchers believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal.

When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola

  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus

  • infected animals

  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients.

This is interesting to note… (note: This is from the Official CDC Ebola Webpage) - During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings (such as a clinic or hospital). Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective equipment, including masks, gowns, and gloves and eye protection. - So it’s not like they didn’t know that it would spread more in Healthcare scenarios…


    There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola.

If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:

  • Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.

  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).

  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.

  • Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.

  • Avoid hospitals in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.

  • After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.



    No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) is available for Ebola.

Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:

  • Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)

  • Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure

  • Treating other infections if they occur

Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. It isn't known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems.

The Science was Fun, But What is Reality?

That is hard to say since we have no standing experience with a pandemic like this, well, not since Spanish Influenza. Even AIDS, while horrible and tragic, is nowhere near the continual, wide-spread, far-reaching destruction that could be Ebola. Below I will give my two cents and what I think, as a scientist, will actually happen.

The reality is where we are as of 10-21-14:

I wholeheartedly expect this to get worse before it gets better, but, I think it will get better. Yes, I think it will because what is the alternative? There are too many smart people out there (a few of them in actual positions of power or authority) who can read the signs and understand that this has the potential to be really bad. And by really bad I mean 60% of the global population gone  type of bad. There is, at last I heard so don’t quote me on this as this info is very fluid, a 60% mortality rate for individuals who have Ebola.

The total number of infected and total deaths for this outbreak alone is simply staggering…



In my estimation there are only a few things that can be done that would be effective:


  • Travel Ban to and from infected areas (Think about it… We will continue to have people slip by undetected through airports because you can carry and not be symptomatic while you are entering the country but once you have symptoms then you are a walking disaster waiting to happen. - Two of the finite amount of hospital personnel [nurses in this case] that came in contact with Duncan [the man who died from Ebola in TX who came, by plane, to America and was not symptomatic until after we he was here for six days] now have Ebola. That’s how fast and powerful this disease spreads; and they were wearing protective suits!)

  • Mandatory Quarantine for everyone who DOES come in from an infected area - (If we are to stop this from spreading we need to be more diligent in how we react to travellers who come in from affected regions of the world. I’m fine with 21 days but would like to see it pushed to an even 30 days just in case maybe someone got it on the plane and did not become symptomatic for the “worst-case scenario” of 21 days; we may miss this persons infection if held only for 21 days)

  • Assume People are Lying - (We have to assume everyone is lying. I say this because this has the very real potential of changing life as we know it permanently. We have to treat everything related to Ebola [really any massively contagious disease] as worst case scenario in order to grab this thing by the boys and drag it, kicking and screaming, out of the playroom and into the dungeon….)


There are obviously more actions that we could take but this will be a great start. I’m not getting into politics (aren’t you proud of me?) regarding the Travel Ban, Quarantine and the not believing people. I don’t care how much money a country loses because they are not getting tourists. There is no half-way here; no meeting in the middle to have your cake and eat it too. Nope, this is the stuff that MUST happen in order to get even a small grip on this crisis. From my vantage point there will be no easy way; it will take a lot of work on everyone’s part.


Now, I’m not a doctor nor do I claim to be an expert in Infectious Diseases and their contraction and treatment, but, we have all become more of an expert than we ever wanted because this is now the world we live in and we must adapt or die. Plain and simple.


Understanding the way it works and they way that we work is a large part of the equation. You have to try to preempt peoples nature because people will go on being human and making, mostly, the wrong decisions even if it comes from a noble place. Regardless of the method or reasons why, humans will always choose on the side of selfishness and self-preservation.


Okay, I’m done. I hope that you have a deeper understanding of the virus and it’s implications. I will keep my reader-base updated as we get new data.


Good luck Earth!



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