Somewhere in a sweltering jungle, in a deep green thicket that blocks the sun, lives a killer rarely seen, but always present. One that prowled the forests perhaps thousands of years before emerging twenty-one years ago to earn the name Ebola.
The virus was named for the Ebola River, which passes by the village where the virus was first discovered.
"Ebola is a rare but very deadly viral fever first identified in Africa in 1976. Ebola outbreaks among humans have been limited to Africa, but a shipment of monkeys infected with the disease did reach a research laboratory in Virginia in 1989" (Preston 41).
Ebola is caused by a long, filamentlike virus that is just a single strand of ribonucleic acid, RNA. RNA usually works with DNA to produce proteins, but viruses based on RNA are able to reverse normal processes. DNA has embedded information, which can control the RNA, and RNA viruses are able to reverse the control, making it capable of controlling the DNA.
The RNA is now in control of producing copies of the virus that is in charge.
"Researchers do not yet know exactly how the Ebola virus is transmitted from person to person" (Preston 41). Once the virus enters a person's bloodstream, the effects are devastating and nearly always deadly. Virologists believe Ebola can be transmitted through bodily fluids and mosquitoes could transfer the blood-borne pathogen to chimps or to humans.
Illness begins suddenly with Ebola. Symptoms usually begin with a severe headache, fever, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and sudden weight loss. They start to show after about three days from contracting the deadly virus. Then, in stage two, the stage before death, "the victims capillaries clog with dead blood cells, causing the skin to bruise, blister and eventually dissolve like wet paper, blood flows freely...