Many infectious diseases that were nearly eradicated from the industrialized world, and newly emerging diseases are now breaking out all over the world due to the misuse of medicines, such as antibiotics and antivirals, the destruction of our environment, and shortsighted political action and/or inaction.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a group of diseases caused by viruses from four distinct families of viruses: filoviruses, arenaviruses, flaviviruses, and bunyaviruses. The usual hosts for most of these viruses are rodents or arthropods, and in some viruses, such as the Ebola virus, the natural host is not known. All forms of viral hemorrhagic fever begin with fever and muscle aches, and depending on the particular virus, the disease can progress until the patient becomes deathly ill with respiratory problems, severe bleeding, kidney problems, and shock. The severity of these diseases can range from a mild illness to death (CDC I).
The Ebola virus is a member of a family of RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses known as filoviruses.
When these viruses are magnified several thousand times by an electron microscope they have the appearance of long filaments or threads. Filoviruses can cause hemorrhagic fever in humans and animals, and because of this they are extremely hazardous. Laboratory studies of these viruses must be carried out in special maximum containment facilities, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland (CDC I,II).
The Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans is a severe, systemic illness caused by infection with Ebola virus. There are four subtypes of Ebola virus (Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Ivory Coast, and Ebola-Reston), which are not just variations of a single virus, but four distinct viruses. Three of these subtypes are known to cause disease in...