What Is The Ebola Virus?
The Ebola virus and how it is spread is summarized in "Stirring Up Trouble" by Stephen S. Morse.
“At first the symptoms are similar to those of flu. A day or two later, blood trickles from the eyes, ears and nose. Vomiting of black and bloody liquid follows, as internal tissues hemorrhage in the few days before death.” (Is doomsday, 1)
The article “Stirring up Trouble”, by Stephen S. Morse, is about the deadly disease similar to the one described above. Morse’s passage relates to the Marburg virus, a sister virus to Ebola. These viruses are two of the deadliest viruses known to man. These viruses have claimed many victims since their appearance. As the death toll from these viruses grows, the citizens of the world must determine how these epidemics can be stopped. If the answer to this enigma is not reached, the death toll will continue to grow rapidly. In order to stop the spread of the deadly viruses, the root of the problem must be destroyed. How can the root be destroyed? The root of the problem has many forms and will be covered in later paragraphs.
Over the years, the media has tried to inform the public on issues relating to the spread of these diseases. In addition to the passage by Morse, other materials are available for those interested in Ebola or Marburg. Hollywood has tried to shed light on this field with movies, such as “Outbreak” or “And The Band Played On”. These movies add a more personal connection to the issue of viral outbreaks. Therefore the audience knows the fictional aspect of the story, for these are only movies. The average citizen might still believe that an outbreak couldn’t happen. The movies provide a visual glimpse of the outbreaks, but the general public could still over look the realism of the disease.
Ebola and Marburg are both very real diseases. Morse’s article and other materials will show the public this reality. In 1995, I read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. This book discussed in detail the effects of the Ebola virus. The book opened my eyes to the dangerous field of medical research and the devastating impact microscopic creatures can have on our planet.
In his book, Preston details the effects of the Ebola virus. The high fevers, immense bleeding and liquefaction of the internal organs are common in both Ebola and Marburg. In the book, Preston also presents the very dangerous side of these viruses. In the book, Preston discusses the possibility of an outbreak from one person. Preston uses the example of an airsick infected individual, on a plane trip to separate continents, to demonstrate the possibility of many people being affected. The gruesome details described in the book makes people afraid of getting the Ebola virus, but the use of stories about the infected people makes the reader aware that they could get the virus. Preston improved awareness of the disease, but did not instill fear into the mind of all reader. I recommend the book for anyone remotely interested in viruses or pathology.
In the passage Stirring up Trouble virologist Stephen S. Morse also awakens citizens to realities which surround our microscopic companions. Morse includes more factual information, as opposed to Preston’s fictional twist on the disease. The passage is filled with accurate portrayals of these viral outbreaks. Morse highlights the effects of the Marburg virus. Since this virus struck in 1967, it has regenerated many times. Each time the virus comes back, it is structurally different from the first. The Ebola virus has hit the African continents many times most recently in February 1996. This outbreak claimed the life of at least 10 people in Gabon, a small country in northeast Africa. (Ebola, 1) As Morse stated the symptoms of Ebola are very similar to a bacterial infection: 103 F temperature, bloodshot eyes and flushed face. Unlike the average bacterial infection, within days the infected individual will have bouts of uncontrollable bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea in addition to a full body rash. In addition to these gruesome details the virus is untreatable by antibiotics, and often leads to death in most of the patients.
Morse presents another very frightening aspect of the viruses: the fact that both viruses were brought on by human expansion. The Marburg virus as well as its sister virus Ebola came out of the African jungles. These viruses are often carried by parasites found on monkeys. The use of monkeys in our modern research has the potential to spread this disease worldwide. Minor outbreaks have occurred in various countries, but the outbreaks only affected the research teams. Since only a handful of people in the world are affected, you may be thinking we have no reason for concern.
Only a hundred years ago I would have agreed. In our modern world, in which a person can reach these isolated regions of Africa in only a few hours the potential for an outbreak has greatly increased. Ebola has various strains of the particular virus. Some strains of viruses can be transmitted via the blood while others are transmitted via all body fluids. In this case even a small sneeze could cause a major out break. The flu virus can be spread from continent to continent in a matter of days. In less than a week a single infected person has the potential to cause a major outbreak. Luckily as of today, many of our deadliest viruses are not spread via airborne droplets. All viruses are constantly mutating to improve their chance of transmission. So we are always at risk of the next major viral outbreak. Should all start wearing little masks and full body protection to stop the chance of viral transmission?
Luckily we don’t have to take these precautions. We have the option to stop the “viral traffic” we have allowed for so many years. The citizens of our world have become aware of the ways in which we enable the traffic to continue. As humans move further into the remote areas of the world, the species, which have been trapped in these areas, have no choice but to come out. This brings many pathogenic disease-causing species in contact with humans.
Unfortunately killing one species, like the monkeys, will not solve the problem. The virus is usually found in much smaller species like ticks. If the monkeys are killed the tick will find a new host. The only way to stop the spread of these viruses is by limiting the impact we have on the environment. In many countries slash and burn methods are destroying our environment. Humans keep looking further and further in the remote areas for new places to settle. This method allows the viruses to spread in our cities. I think Morse is trying to tell the reader to back off and leave the remote areas alone. Until mankind changes our current methods we will be plagued by new out breaks. We have been lucky that a pandemic worldwide disease out break has not hit us yet.
I found this article to be very informative. I hope this passage will help everyone see the true cause of most of the outbreaks that affect our world. Morse detailed the causes and threat of a viral attack. At the beginning of the paper, I stated we have to get to the root of the problem. I think of the threat of a viral outbreak as a tree. The actual outbreak is the leaves of the tree. The stem is composed of the viral carriers and the modes of transmission. The root system is the cause of the outbreak. Morse places the destruction of the planet at the root of the tree. In order to stop the outbreak, we must destroy the roots so the tree cannot grow any further. Once the Earth is cared for, the Earth will care for us. I think this is Morse’s main point. He thinks the threat of a viral attack is very real and all people should be aware of the threat, but we do not have to live in fear of a viral attack.
Is doomsday mutant next for Ebola?
Preston, Richard. The Hot Zone. New York: Random House, 1994
Ebola virus kills 10 in Gabon, February 1996.