Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Once the virus transitions to

haemorrhagic fever


haemorrhagic fever, or simply Ebola, is a severe illness caused by the Ebola
virus. The symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, muscle soreness, and
fatigue. The virus generally takes seven to nine days to manifest into the
Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Once the virus transitions to this fatal fever, it
only takes three days to cause irreversible brain damage, which ultimately has
a high probability to kill the infected host. The symptoms besides a sudden
fever then include vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding from the eyes, nose and
mouth. Individuals infected with Ebola are highly contagious and can spread the
virus through bodily fluids and direct contact. As of today, humans have not
yet discovered any cures unfortunately. Moreover, one of my colleagues who is
majoring in English had mentioned that “Ebola can be described as one of the
most horrifying diseases to ever exist in human history.” He stated that it
would be like a dream come true to write a science-fiction novel on Ebola.

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The discovery, infected areas, and how it was transferred

the secluded villages in Central Africa, Ebola was first identified in 1976
with two outbreaks that happened almost at the same time caused by two
different viruses, “the Sudan Ebola virus (EBOV-S) and the Zaire Ebola virus
(EBOV-Z)” (Stein). On average, fewer than 500 cases were reported each year, if
at all. Between 1979 and 1994, however, no cases were reported. In the fall of
2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. At least 70 cases had been reported and 43 deaths
within the first two months following the outbreak. The virus had spread,
according to researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine, from “a
two-year-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small village
in south-eastern Guinea” (BBC News). However, this outbreak was a different
strain of the Ebola virus than the one found in West Africa, which now dwarfs
all previous outbreaks. The first case to appear in West Africa happened in
Guinea in 2014, due to toddler carrying the virus. The outbreak caused
widespread panic due to its highly contagious nature. The virus had not been a
threat to the United States until this 2014 outbreak. Only then, the virus
received media attention and aid from the United States.

Demography and social economic involvement

The outbreak of the Ebola virus in
West Africa increased to a point that it became nearly impossible to contain.
The outbreak of the virus “was so large, so severe, and so difficult to
contain” due to the poor living conditions, which in turn limited the amount of
resources available (Chan). In fact, the countries most affected are also the
poorest countries in Africa; Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In addition, civil
war and times of disagreements had weakened their health systems and severely
damaged the education and healthcare available to future generations, making
the virus explicitly hard to contain. The infrastructure was not capable of
meeting the essential requirements for containing the spread. Therefore, the infected
individuals were not monitored or contained, allowing the infection to spread
without much interference.

Unemployment was also a major contributing
factor to the spread. A large portion of the population—almost the entire
population—did not have a steady source of income and often travelled around in
search of work. The mobility of the working class contributed to the spread, making
it easy for the virus to jump from one person to others. The virus spread out
rapidly as it was being carried from one place to another as Africans searched
for work. The intersection of the three countries—Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra
Leone—was found to have the highest rate of infection as a result (Gatherer).

The areas affected the most had the lowest
percentage of formally educated citizens. In a report provided by the
Assessment Capacities Project, the majority of Sierra Leoneans population have
no formal education. It was reported that 67 percent of
women aged 15-49 years and half of men in the same age group do not have a formal education (Dixon). A 2015 report found
that Guinea has a literacy rate of 20 percent in rural areas—a very
small percentage compared to the average literacy rate in the world, which is
more than 85 percent—and 59 percent in urban areas. In 2012, an estimated 38
percent of parents, heads of households, had no formal education and almost 50
percent of children aged 6–14 had never been to school (Chan). Education then
can be considered as another contributor to the spread of the Ebola virus.
Without education, people are unaware of the virus; people are helpless. 

The use of bad/unethical science behind spread to gain
support for forcing aid on locals

World Health Organization and Infection Prevention and Control measures attempted
various efforts to contain the virus in Africa and to prevent it from spreading
to other countries. One of the most interesting cases is that individuals
traveling to the United States from west Africa were quarantined and not
allowed into the country. The measures were then taken by the US government to
inform its citizens about the virus and what to do if they or someone they corm into contact with is experiencing
Ebola-like symptoms. Moreover, since the area where the countries intersect is
the most infected, “decisions to quarantine this area brought extreme hardship
to more than a million people—but were essential for containment” (Chan). The
bad science used in this issue proclaims the best method to stop the virus from
spreading was to quarantine the area in the three countries and leave it all
isolated. The WHO and the IPC did not know what they were going to encounter
next upon attempting to implement such measurement.  

The World Health Organization put in
place several temporary treatment centres in an effort to provide better
patient care while also containing the spread. Although it might seem like good
science, what the WHO used was pseudo-science because the infected hosts were
only treated in Africa. They assumed the virus would not spread. Nevertheless,
the treatment centre’s wryer, often unclean, could have contributed as to the
spread because the unclean condition’s exposed valuable workers to the virus.

Statistics illustrated that the time
required for a patient with the infection to be ruled as not infectious was
roughly 21 days. The time that most patients actually remained in treatment
averaged one week. The shortage of beds forced the workers to release possibly infectious
patients into society. According to a report by the WHO, almost 1000 patients
with “confirmed, probable, or suspected infection” were known to need clinical
care in the week of September 8 through 14 alone, which far exceeds the present
bed capacity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leona (Dixon).

Africans put up resistance to some of the measures

healers were being used by many African locals as a form of resistance because during
the outbreak, they felt that they were being forced to use modern medicine as
opposed to their healers. According to records from the World Health
Organization, a traditional healer lived in the community and was well
respected and admired by many. During the outbreak, this traditional healer was
sought out by hundreds of desperate family members and as a result the
traditional healer was exposed to the virus and died. The funeral attracted the
majority of the population—people who also fell ill from the virus.

This is one of the many
challenges that aid efforts faced and it had to do with the lack of cultural
literacy among first world aid responders. The challenge stemmed from the local
religious and cultural practices that held above modern science by followers.
The individuals that strictly practiced religion often blamed wrong doings
within society as being the cause of a mysterious outbreak. It was seen as
punishment from a god because that is the extent to which their understanding
of science and medicine has progressed. That is not to say that they are undedicated,
but that Africans are unfairly excluded from access to information that could
extend their knowledge. At the time of the outbreak, this was a serious issue as
it often prevented people from reporting the illness. The less people that were
reported as ill meant that even more people were at risk of contracting it

is the most problematic cultural barrier—the belief in natural medicine or
spiritual healers—that the WHO and the ICP confronted because there were many
reported cases of healers who fell ill from the virus in their failed attempts
to heal. Simultaneously, they infected a significant amount of people as the
outbreak spread and more people sought them out.

The World Health Organization reported that most of the
population in some West African countries would rather treat the Ebola virus
with traditional medicine. This kind of traditional healing was a more trusted
approach by Africans than modern medicine. Several reports by the WHO included
that some healers claimed they could heal Ebola. Among all the techniques used
in the healing process, the most used was bodily contact between the sick
individual and the healer. It was not uncommon for the healer to make incisions
on the sick person as a way of releasing the illness. Trust in these healers
may have led to more deaths.

Fear of the treatment and quarantine

The population
in West Africa put up resistance because fear was the greatest motivator for
families to hide ill loved ones or take them to traditional healers. Since quarantine
zones were seen as the last stop for sick people, relatives attempted to avoid
them. Unfortunately, avoiding the zones did not save any lives. Instead, it
exposed more people to the illness. Fear of not being able to bury the dead
contributed to the spread as well. People wanted to bury the dead in accordance
with their cultural beliefs, however, the treatment centres burned the bodies
to prevent contamination. A common belief for Africans was that the dead needed
to be buried intact and with personal belongings in order to continue to the
afterlife. Families would hide the sick so that they could bury them once they
died (Chan). In addition, entire households wryer exposed as a result of fear.

Miscommunication because of a lack of resources available

can be represented as unethical science because people were left to die on the
street or in crowded and uncomfortable quarantine tents. The management failed
to give the only type of support that could be offered to infected individuals.
This type of support did not require the expensive technology and medical
procedures that other illnesses require today. Because of the low cost and
relatively remedial experience required to make the patient comfortable, the
organizations in control failed at their intended goal (Brussels). That is if the
goal was to make the individuals comfortable and cared for while also
attempting to contain the spread. Since this unfortunately was not the outcome,
the goal, it seems, was to contain the spread in order to protect everyone
outside of Africa.

nonetheless, had no way of resisting the quarantine and were forced to obey the
rules imposed on them by the organizations who were supposed to be helping them
(Chertow). Containing the virus was the first priority for these organizations;
treating the people it infected was not high priority. This then occurred
because the people infected did not have access to education and healthcare
that could have otherwise prevented the infection in the first place. 

World Health Organization and Infection Prevention and Control failed to
deliver therapy and hospice services to make all the patients comfortable.
Instead, the people infected by the Ebola virus were left to die on secluded
areas like the street or in the uncomfortable quarantine tents. The World
Health Organization failed to support the infected population in West Africa.
This type of support, again, can be classified as bad science for the services
were said to cure and prevent thousands of people from dying. Nevertheless, the
cheap and similar medical help made the patients and relatives uncomfortable—Africans
refused to use their help. The organizations in control failed at their
intended goal and worsened the situation. Their purpose on helping was not to
make the individuals comfortable and safe, but it was an attempt to contain the
spread—they did not want the virus to expand. In other words, the goal was to
prevent the virus from going out of Africa.


urgency of the issue brought to light the inequalities that African citizens
face. If they had access to the same information and resources that Americans
and other rich countries do, the outbreak may have contained itself. Africans
were not able to make the changes called for by the IPC; and since Africa is
one of the less developed places in the world, it was almost impossible for the
outbreak not to have arisen. The populations that were quarantined had high
levels of poverty and unemployment and little access to healthcare. This
further segregated them and pushed them even further into poverty. Africans
indeed attempted to put up resistance to the measures, but poverty was key to
not being able to resist. Therefore, if the WHO and the IPC wanted to contain
the spread, they should have clearly informed Africans what their goal was. The
measurements were miscommunicated.  


1.      BBC News. (2016, January 14). Ebola: Mapping
the outbreak – BBC News. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28755033

2.      Brussels, D. (2015, October 28). The Politics
behind the Ebola Crisis – International Crisis Group. Retrieved March 03, 2016,
from http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/west-africa/232-the-politics-behind-the-ebola-crisis.aspx  

3.      Chan, M. (2014, September 25). Ebola Virus
Disease in West Africa – No Early End to the Outbreak — NEJM. Retrieved March
03, 2016, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1409859

4.      Chertow, D., Kleine, C., Edwards, J., Scaini,
R., Giuliani, R., & Sprecher, A. (2014, November 27). Ebola Virus Disease
in West Africa – Clinical Manifestations and Management — NEJM. Retrieved March
03, 2016, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1413084

5.      Dixon, M., & Schafer, I. (2014, June 27).
Ebola Viral Disease Outbreak — West Africa, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2016, from

6.      Gatherer, D. (2014, August 01). The 2014 Ebola
virus disease outbreak in West Africa. Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://jgv.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jgv/10.1099/vir.0.067199-0

7.      Stein, R. (2014, December 11). What is Ebola?
Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcp.12593/full