What's in this article?
What is Ebola?
Ebola, Publicly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus species. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.
The Origin of Ebola
Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.
Symptoms of Ebola virus
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body. This damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases.
The Origin of HIV
Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Studies show that HIV may have jumped from apes to humans as far back as the late 1800s. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid- to late 1970s.
Symptoms of HIV
The first symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually disappear on their own after 2 to 3 weeks. But many people don’t have symptoms or they have such mild symptoms that they don’t notice them at this stage.
After the early symptoms go away, an infected person may not have symptoms again for many years. After a certain point, symptoms reappear and then remain.
Untreated HIV infection progresses in stages. These stages are based on your symptoms and the amount of the virus in your blood.
Difference Between Ebola and HIV?
A key point in the difference between AIDS and Ebola is their visibility and latency. AIDS, or the virus that causes it, HIV, is more of a silent, unseen killer that has a long latency period. The global community did not immediately see the deadly effects of HIV or AIDS, but they do see the ghastly, short-term effects and quick-acting symptoms of Ebola.
The symptoms of the HIV virus can be latent for months and even years.
While Ebola, on the other hand, has no latency period. Ebola has an incubation period of two to 21 days, more commonly presenting symptoms between 8-10 days of infection. Since Ebola shows extreme outward symptoms, it is easier to identify who is infected and how to isolate them and thus contain the virus.
With HIV, many will not even know they are infected until years down the road, after they may have unknowingly infected others.