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Ebola Facts

I believe that in order to contribute for any of the challenges we should be on the same ground of ebola facts 1) Is a potentially deadly desease 2) It is transmitted by blood or body fluids 3) It can be confused with other infections 4) There are some experimental treatments but otherwise, no cure. Through these brief research you will find some facts I gathered on these points so they can serve as inspiration for some ideas.

Photo of Jessica Nava
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Ebola Key Facts
  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
  • 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.
  • The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
  • 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, safe burials 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.
  • There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ 

How is it diagnosed?

Within a few days after symptoms begin
  • Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing
  • IgM ELISA
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Virus isolation
Later in disease course or after recovery
  • IgM and IgG antibodies
​Retrospectively in deceased patients
  • Immunohistochemistry testing
  • PCR
  • Virus isolation
​http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/diagnosis/index.html

// ELISA testing what does it do.
The blood sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. In the lab, a technician adds the sample to a petri dish containing the specific antigen (foreign substance such as a virus that causes your immune system to respond) related to the condition for which you are being tested. If your blood contains antibodies to the antigen, the two will bind together. The technician will check this by adding an enzyme to the petri dish and observing how your blood and the antigen react. If the contents of the dish change color, you may have the condition. How much change the enzyme causes allows the technician to determine the presence and amount of antibody.
http://www.healthline.com/health/elisa#Procedure2

//Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
The PCR test forms the basis of a number of tests that can answer many different medical questions that help physicians diagnose and treat patients. For example, PCR tests can detect and identify pathogenic organisms in patients, especially those that are difficult to cultivate (for example, HIV and other viruses and certain fungi).

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/pcr_polymerase_chain_reaction_test/page3_em.htm#why_would_a_doctor_order_a_pcr_polymerase_chain_reaction_test

//IgM and IgG antibodies
An immunoglobulin test measures the level of certain immunoglobulins, or antibodies, in the blood. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight antigens, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

The body makes different immunoglobulins to combat different antigens. For example, the antibody for chickenpox isn't the same as the antibody for mononucleosis. Sometimes, the body may even mistakenly make antibodies against itself, treating healthy organs and tissues like foreign invaders. This is called an autoimmune disease.

Once an antibody is produced against a specific antigen, the next time that antigen enters the body, the immune system "remembers" its response and produces more of the same antibodies. In that way, checking for the presence of specific immunoglobulins in the blood can be helpful in diagnosing or ruling out infections or certain other illnesses.
http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/medical/test_immunoglobulins.html

TREATMENT
No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) is available for Ebola.

Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:

Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
Treating other infections if they occur

Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, possibly longer. It isn't known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola. Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems.

Handling Ebola Patients

May precautions have to be taken to handle Ebola Patients. Different ones have to be taken to each stage as well. If you want to know the details of each circumstance please refer to this address:

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/index.html

Why bother with these details?
I strongly believe that the state of the art is homework that must be done if one expects to approach a situation. For me, knowing about Ebola, how is it being treated now, how can one get it, how can it be dealt with, how con one be protected if one is to help it is simply crucial.

In my case, I'm an engineer. In my college days I invented a machine printer-like that can optimize the DNA and RNA sampling faster for small trays. Because of the delicacy of the substance we faced many challenges and I believe that the greatest of all was to understand what we were dealing with. We were engineers, didn't know a thing about how the slightest disturbance in RNA could recombine it leaving it useless. We had to become experts on the matter and when that happened we were able to develop a good prototype, then a patent. 

I offer this brief information in case you are like me and need to know what you are dealing with. I hope though that this little article is so incomplete that you go out there and find your own questions and share the answers with us. Maybe someone smarter than us can pick up that piece of information and make it the key to a realistic solution.

Thank you for reading :)

13 comments

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Photo of carilyn c

Hello Jessica,

I forward to you a comment made by Shane Zhao on one of my posts regarding URL links, which may be helpful to your informative post...

from Shane Zhao to carilyn c
on October 23, 2014, 06:59AM
Also, perhaps you might add a link directly to your post in case folks want to easily check out more? Tip: to activate links in your post, hit the Update Entry button up there on the right, then follow the instructions here: http://bit.ly/oi_link

Photo of Eduardo Cruz

Thanks a lot. I'm a software engineer. I got here saw the first idea with lots of "health" research/patent related information and I thought ... "where do I start"? Right after that I saw your text :)

Photo of Aditya Brahmabhatt

I second Eduardo. Thank You Jessica for this collection of facts, I was just about to do the same. I agree on knowing all the facts about what you are dealing with being very important in starting towards finding an actionable solution.

Photo of Jessica Nava

Thank you Eduardo and Aditya, I hope this information came in handy. Please let me know if i forgot something important. I am looking forward to read your research as well :)

Photo of Elaine Mau

I love this post! Thanks for summarizing the facts.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Here is an article from today's NYTimes with facts to add to your stellar resource Jessica. There is some overlap but this might add to your info and clarify some things. The information is presented in the format of a Q and A.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/31/world/africa/ebola-virus-outbreak-qa.html?action=click&contentCollection=US%20Open®ion=Article&module=Promotron

Photo of Jay Nichols

This is a good starting point for further research into the topic. Thanks!

Photo of Chris Ragsdale

Great work laying out general information about Ebola! This will be key as you must first understand what you are facing before you can design solutions for it. Very useful data set!

Photo of Jessica Nava

I'm glad you liked it Chris :) as I told Meena, I encourage you to find whatever I missed and share it with us. Thank you for reading! Jessica

Photo of Meena Kadri

Way to go, Jessica!

Photo of Jessica Nava

Thank you Meena, I am glad you liked it. If you feel anything is missing like Helder said, please open a new research so we can read :) best regards, Jessica

Photo of Helder Lima

Hi Jessica,
Building on a bit on your thread, in a recent interview on The Guardian online, Peter Piot one of the researchers that discovered the Ébola virus in 1976 shared some important insights, some indeed are already on discussion in this challenge but is worth reading nonetheless.
For instance he stated that "caregivers need to teach family members who are providing care to patients how to protect themselves from infection to the extent possible", he argues however this is a major challenge.
In addition, he mention hospitals are themselves a source of spreading, stating an example where “doctors and nurses often don't wear protective gloves”.
He also mentioned "why not curfew? As long as these measures aren't imposed with military power". A more drastic measure but he implies it can be effective.

For more details you my refer here:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/04/ebola-zaire-peter-piot-outbreak

Photo of Jessica Nava

Yes, thank you very much for this complement. This is also a very important aspect of the spreading control. I decided to leave it out for now because is so extense it would merit its own research. Thank you very much for bringing this to the table. Why don't you start some research there and share it with us? Best Regards, Jessica