Ebola! The facts and fiction.

When I was seven years old I watched a movie called Outbreak; an action packed movie that threw together Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and a cute monkey battling a mutating virus that began to overwhelm a small town. This movie led me on a an exploratory journey into the world of infectious diseases. Outbreak was loosely based on the book the Hot Zone, a nonfiction novel about the history of hemorrhagic fevers. I read this book over and over, and to this day still have the the same weather worn copy.

With the recent International outbreak of Ebola, I thought it would be a good idea to spread some wisdom about Ebola.


*Human Liver infected with Ebola.

Disease: Ebola virus disease
Also known as: Hemorrhagic Fever

Virus Family: Filoviridae

Transmission: Spread of bodily fluids or objects recently in contact with bodily fluids. Air transmission has not been seen in any form of transmission. Can spread through blood, vomit, mucus, and feces.

Pathogenic organism: Four Ebola virus strains are know to cause disease in humans: Zaire (EBOV) which now just known as Ebola Virus due it it being the most common virus, Bundibugyo (BDBV), Sudan (SUDV), and Taï Forest (TAFV). The fifth strain is not known to cause disease in humans and is named Reston (RESTV).


*Evola Virus virion


The first Ebola outbreak in history was in 1979 where two outbreaks occurred at the same time: one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus was named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then named Zaire which is the name of the most common form of the virus. The natural reservoir of the disease is thought to be a kind of bat from the family of Pteropodidae.

The disease has an incubation period of 2-21 days in which a person is infected and can infect others. Being symptomatic means a person is infectious. Symptoms include those similar to many other viruses such as: fever, sore throat, muscle pain and vomiting. Ebola typically has a case fatality rate of around 50% but can range from 25-90% depending on available healthcare, comorbidities and healthcare infrastructure.

The recent outbreak in Africa caused widespread panic across the world. Countries from all over the world sent healthcare aid, workers and supplies. Unfortunately, health care workers are at an increase risk of infection due to close contact with patients and their samples. As we’ve seen with the recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the risk of health care workers being infected and travelling outside of the infection zone is a safety concern in any kind of outbreak. The key to controlling any outbreak is containment and healthcare mobilization.

If there are any questions you would like me to answer, comment below and I will happily answer!

* The information and pictures from this posted is references from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola Page on http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ and on the World Health Organization on http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ -Please visit these sites for more information!


Starting at the beginning…

Okay… So not really at the beginning, but the beginning of Epidemiology and Public Health! That’s a good start… right? So I have added a few pages, one about me, one for resources, a glossary because I know people are not familiar with every term I will be using (I’m trying to make this non-sciency person friendly) I will be continuing to add major diseases in history, public health tips and so on… but continue on down to learn more about one of the most important diseases in epidemiology!

Disease: Cholera
Transmission: Sewage or waste water coming into contact with drinking water or fecal-oral transmission
Pathogenic organism: Vibrio cholera


While the earliest outbreaks of cholera are highly debated, the most notable outbreaks are those of 19th century. The first cholera pandemic hit the Eastern Hemisphere from 1817 to 1823, and then again sweeping through India and travelling all the way to England and then travelling to the Americas by the end of 1831.

Cholera is an important contributing factor to the history of infectious disease because this is the disease that prompted the research of Dr. John Snow that began the study of epidemiology and public health. In 1854, a large outbreak of cholera in the Soho district of London was caused by a large amount on people moving in and a lack of sewage systems. The government decided to run the wastes from this area into the Thames river to solve the problem of overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions. This waste dump contaminated the water supply, leading to one of the largest cholera outbreaks in England’s history. Within the first week, over a 125 people had died, by the end of the outbreak, over 600 had perished. Dr. Snow, a physician treating the outbreak, decided to try to research a way to prevent the spread of cholera deaths in London. At this point in time, cholera was believed to be caused by “breathing bad air”, however, Dr. Snow did not believe this theory and began investigating alternatives. To begin his research he began mapping the number of patients and where they lived in order to get a sense of what factors might affect the transmission of this disease. What he ended up finding was that a majority of the cases lived around a single water pump on Broad Street. After taking test samples and statistically mapping the outbreaks, Dr. Snow managed to convince public authorities to remove the water pump that worked the well. This action led to the decline of the outbreak and founded the beginning of Epidemiology!

Symptoms and Biological pathways:

Vibro cholera  enters the body through the mouth and travels down the gastrointestinal tract to lodge itself within the intestinal walls. It replicates rapidly within the next 2-3 days and begins to release a chemical toxin that affects the membranes of your intestinal cells. This change in permeability causes a rapid loss of water and nutrient uptake causing excessive diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms include a shrunken appearance, muscle cramps, and increased thirst. Massive dehydration occurs which leads to rapid drops in blood pressure, cardiac arrest and possibly death.


Cholera today:

In general, industrialized or “Developed” nations in the world have very few causes of infectious diseases that rely on sanitation conditions for transmission. However, there are approximately 3-5 million cases a year in the world, mostly seen in Africa and Southeast Asia. The CDC cautions U.S. citizens from drinking non-bottled water when travelling to these areas and to immediately seek medical attention if showing any signs and symptoms.

* The information and pictures from this posted is references from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Cholera Page on http://www.cdc.gov/cholera/index.html -Please visit this site for more information!

Please comment below if you have any suggestion or want to learn anything specific! I am still working out some kinks… so have some patience with me!

The beginning of an era…


I hope that you have come to this page to learn… as that is the whole reason it is here!

Since I was seven years old, I have been fascinated by the world of microorganisms and infectious diseases. Over the years this evolved from a simple fascination to a passion that has led me to where I am now- Four weeks away from graduating from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and a Bachelors of Science in Anthropology; and to be honest, this is just the beginning!

I have chosen to study both Anthropology as well as Biology because it gives me a unique perspective on diseases, and how they have evolved over the course of human history. I believe that by studying how diseases present in the human population from their origin to current times, we can derive an understanding of how they are going to evolve in the future. I concentrate my focus on researching infectious diseases and understanding their impact on the human population.

This concern piqued my interest in infectious diseases and because of this I have expanded my research and am now working on identifying cultural factors that may affect the transmission of the coronavirus spreading in Saudi Arabia, called Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). This disease is a sister virus to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and they are closely related in the phylogenetic tree of novel coronaviruses that have generated infections in humans.

My educational background and study of diseases have been focused on data analysis and the epidemiology of MERS-CoV. My professional background as an Emergency Medical Technician has given me a glimpse of the everyday need of a strong Public Health infrastructure. These are just a few reasons that I am determined to one day be on the frontlines to respond to and treat emergency situations such as biological and environmental emergencies, infectious disease outbreaks, and other situations that require emergency response.

My intent is to continue my education with this dual approach of combining hands-on medical knowledge with in depth research in order to understand the mechanisms of a disease on a population along with how to treat and help the infected individuals recover. Moving forward, I plan to tackle the problems of infectious diseases: how to treat, contain, and understand how they infect a population.  There are many different paths available to reach this goal, and being a part of this program with the limitless opportunities it presents to those interested in public health is a step in the right direction for anyone striving to better the world.

I want to devote my life to helping people and preventing these diseases from spreading. One of the best ways to do this is to educate the population on the fundamentals of biology, infectious diseases and public health. I hope you continue on this journey with me as I explore this Microbial World!