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Ebola virus

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

 

Ebola virus

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Ebola- the disease, spread, causes, treatment and vulnerability.

For Mains: Epidemics- spread, global concern and joint efforts in this regard.

 

Context: Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has been declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

What is public health emergency of international concern?
Public health emergency of international concern is defined as an “extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.” The public emergency announcement is the highest level of alarm that is only raised during the gravest of outbreaks.

 

Background:

This is the fifth time in history that WHO has declared a public health emergency. The previous declarations were for the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016 that took lives of more than 11000 people, spread of Zika virus in Latin America, 2009 Swine flu epidemic and for polio in 2014. WHO only declares a disease or outbreak a global emergency when it threatens to affect other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

 

How will declaration of global health emergency help?
The declaration of a global health emergency will bring larger international focus on the alarming issue and it will also help bring in more financial and technical support. At the same time, the declaration can cause governments of neighbouring nations to panic and overreact by shutting down borders.

 

What you need to know about Ebola?

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

Transmission: 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.

Prevention: 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 and social mobilisation.

Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

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