The Ebola Virus Disease can be deadly if a person does not get the right medical attention. The signs and symptoms of Ebola can appear in a person who has been affected as soon as 2 days or as long as 21 days after they first come into exposure to the virus. Most commonly, symptoms are seen within 8 to 10 days. Though the Ebola Virus is deadly, a person who has good medical care and a decent immune system can overcome this. When a person does beat Ebola, they develop antibodies that can last as long as 10 years to ward against the Ebola Virus.
What Are The First Signs of Ebola?
Within a week and up to two weeks, though it is rare for a person to not exhibit signs within the first week, there are several signs that point to Ebola being the culprit for a person’s ailments. These signs include:
Feel of being unwell, though a person may be unable to identify just what exactly is wrong
Headache, that is often severe
Pain in the joints that is much like Arthritis
Pain in the back, particularly the lower back
A person can have a few of these signs or have all of them. Due to the nature of these signs being like conditions such as the flu, it is very easy for the Ebola Virus to be misdiagnosed at first.
Ongoing Symptoms of Ebola
As the Ebola Virus begins to dominate the body more, there are more symptoms that appear. These symptoms are more painful and intense, as the virus is doing more damage to the body. These symptoms are:
Diarrhea becomes bloody, rectum often bleeds
Ears may begin to bleed
Fever begins to spike
Genitals can swell
Pain is evident at a slight touch to the skin
Eyes can swell and bleed
Bruising all over the body
A rash can form over the body that often looks like blood just under the surface
Internal bleeding begins to take place
Severe weight loss
Kidneys and liver begin to function improperly
These are severe signs that are often the point of no return for many patients, as it can be devastating to the body. These usually occur a week after showing the first signs of Ebola.
The following picture from the Center of Disease and Control shows signs and symptoms of Ebola in a timeline:
How to Diagnose If You’ve Got Ebola
Diagnosing is a difficult process as the signs and symptoms of Ebola are often associated with several other illnesses including malaria, typhoid fever, and meningitis. Due to Ebola being so similar in symptoms, the only real way to test for this is to utilize:
ELISA, otherwise known as an antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
Antigen-capture detection tests
A serum neutralization test
A cell culture that isolates the virus in the body
Reverse transciptase polymerase chain reaction assay, otherwise known as RT-PCR
Since these tests involve using bodily fluids as the main way to determine whether someone has Ebola or not, it means that it must tested in a bio-hazard facility in which the laboratory personnel are very careful to avoid coming into direct contact with the samples.
What About Treatment?
Treating Ebola is a matter of controlling symptoms and maintaining the body’s response. At this time, there is no approved method, such as an anti-viral medication, that can be used to treat Ebola. However, there are two vaccines that are being tested currently undergoing human testing to see if these vaccines have the potential to aid in Ebola virus recovery or not. There is also no type of immune therapy or blood related products that have been approved by the FDA as a use for treating the Ebola virus.
Supportive Care Measures
Those who do contract the Ebola virus are often monitored for the slightest changes in their bodies and then treatment is based on these changes and what the body needs to get over these changes. For the most part, patients are often:
Put onto IV fluids in order to ensure that they do not dehydrate
Having their blood pressure constantly monitored
Given electrolytes in order to balance the salts in their bodies
Given oxygen to ensure that no organs are damaged during this time.
Infections do occur throughout the body with the Ebola virus, and these infections are treated on a case by case basis to ensure the infections do not get out of control. The key to treatment is catching the symptoms early, diagnosing the patient with Ebola, and ensuring treatment is aimed at helping the body to recover.
How Long Does It Take to Recover?
The recovery period for someone who has the Ebola virus is a couple of weeks. On average, it takes up to 2 weeks from being exposed to the virus to start showing symptoms. If these symptoms are not seen within this time frame after being exposed, chances are the person is safe. There are several factors that come into play when it comes to how long it can take to recover, which include the medical treatment they are receiving and how diligent this is in combating the infections and other issues that arise. In addition, the person’s own immune system is a huge factor in how long it takes them to completely recover.
Those who do recover from the Ebola virus have developed antibodies that are going to be in their systems for up to 10 years, according to the CDC. It is unknown as this time if it means the person is completely protected from any strand of Ebola, or just the strand in which they were infected with.
When a person has been declared recovered, they are no longer contagious. However, men can still spread the virus via semen for up to 3 months after their recovery. This is why medical professionals tell their male patients that sexual intercourse must be avoided for the next 3 months or condoms need to be used to stop the spread of the virus.