Ebola

News & Information About Ebola

Tag: hiv

Symptoms of Ebola VS Flu/Malaria/HIV

Generally the symptoms of Ebola are described as “flu like”. It is common for viral infections to present themselves with similar symptoms in the early stages of infection while the body begins to fight the virus. The following table compares the symptoms of Ebola to other common diseases endemic to Africa.

Symptom Ebola Influenza Common Cold HIV Stage 1 Malaria
Abdominal Pain Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Bleeding Gums Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Bleeding Orifaces Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Chest Pain Less Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Convulsions Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Cough Common Common Common Uncommon Common
Diarrhea Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Extreme Fatigue Common Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Fatigue Common Common Less Common Common Common
Fever Common Common Common Common Common
Genital Sores Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Headaches Common Common Less Common Common Common
Hiccups Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Jaundice Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Joint Pain Common Common Less Common Common Common
Loss of Appetite Common Less Common Less Common Uncommon Common
Mouth Sores Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Muscle Pain Common Less Common Less Common Less Common Common
Nasal Congestion Less Common Common Common Less Common Less Common
Nausea Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Paroxysms Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common
Rash Common Less Common Uncommon Common Less Common
Red Eyes Common Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common
Runny Nose Less Common Common Common Less Common Less Common
Shivering Less Common Less Common Uncommon Uncommon Common
Shortness of Breath Less Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Sneezing Less Common Common Less Common Less Common Less Common
Sore Throat Less Common Common Common Uncommon Uncommon
Tender Lymph Nodes Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Common Uncommon
Throat Inflamation Uncommon Less Common Uncommon Common Less Common
Trouble Swallowing Less Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Less Common
Vomiting Common Less Common Uncommon Less Common Common
Watering Eyes Less Common Common Uncommon Uncommon Less Common
Weight Loss Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Less Common

The symptoms across most common viral infections are very similar which results in difficulty diagnosing Ebola without a blood test. If you are wondering what the single symptom to look out for is the answer is hiccups. Although not all Ebola patients get hiccups it is common clue that further investigation may be required.

Disclaimer: The above table is based on publicly available knowledge and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis. If you suspect that you have come into contact with Ebola and experience symptoms seek urgent medical attention. It may save your life.

HIV vs Ebola Virus

HIV-1 and Ebola have an intertwined history as both have emerged from the Rainforests of Africa. They may not have first occurred there but certainly made their first appearances in the modern world in what was known at the time as Zaire. The most fundamental difference between the two virus lies in the mechanism of action. HIV does not directly kill its host, rather it disables the immune system which allows another infection or disease to overwhelm the host, which ultimately leads to death. Ebola on the other hand actively destroys and kills the cells of its host.

HIV Virus

By Photo Credit: C. Goldsmith Content Providers: CDC/ C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E. L. Palmer, W. R. McManus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ebola mutates slowly in comparison to HIV. A single HIV patient can carry multiple strains of the virus while Ebola has shown very little change over the years prior to the 2014 outbreak. HIV is easily preventable since it is transmitted through direct and intimate contact of bodily fluids. Basic safety precautions which act as effective barriers include wearing of gloves when treating wounded people,  practicing safe sex and avoiding shared needles. Ebola is infinitely more infectious requiring extreme precaution and protection. Ebola is a Bio-Safety Level 4 virus and all research is conducted in pressurized laboratories. Researchers and Doctors are required to wear sealed respirator suits and are placed in quarantine for 2-3 weeks if a leak is suspected.

Trait Ebola Virus HIV
R 0 2.2 Mean 2-5
Generation Time 5 (CDC), 11 (WHO) 2.6
Mortality Rate 25-90% / ~70% 2014 Outbreak 80-90% prior to ARV
Airborne No No
Waterborne No No
Primary Transmission Bodily Fluids (Almost All) Bodily Fluids (Blood)
Vaccine In Trials In Trials
Primary Hosts Humans, Primates, Bats Humans, Primates
Type RNA Virus RNA (Retrovirus)
Deaths per Annum Very Low Prior to 2014 Greater than 1 million
Largest known Outbreak 2013/14 West Africa Currently Global
First Isolated 1976 1981-83
Last Pandemic Never Recorded Current
Patient Isolation Required Not Required
Contact Tracing Required Not Required
Possible Age Thousands of Years Hundreds of Years

Humans are efficient vessels for both HIV and Ebola exhibiting little immunity to either virus. If Ebola had longer incubation periods and did not burn out quickly it is suspected that as much as 80% of the human population on earth could be infected resulting in the collapse of nearly all society and infrastructure. HIV is considered a slow killer and often ignored as a real threat to society which many consider a mistake given the large number of infected individuals and the significant number of deaths per annum. Anti-retroviral treatments have provided relief and hope for the tens of million infected with HIV across the planet.

HIV Drugs as Ebola Treatments

The Ebola virus and HIV share a handful of similarities which raises questions about the potential for HIV medication to be used as treatment for Ebola patients. Recently a Doctor in Liberia has claimed successful treatment of Ebola using Lamivudine which typically inhibits reverse transcriptase when used as an HIV treatment. Dr. Gobee Logan administered the drug to 15 patients of which 13 survived. Although the sample is too small to draw conclusions and it is doubtful that a scientific process was followed due the nature of the outbreak it certainly provides an interesting line of thought that may very well lead to a better understanding of Ebola treatment. This all depends on whether the Doctors claims can be validated and replicated. No data could be found on lab confirmations for the Ebola virus in the patients which received Lamivudine.

HIV Drugs for Ebola?

By Thomas Splettstoesser (www.scistyle.com) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Doctors will likely point out that Ebola uses RNA dependent RNA polymerase and not reverse transcriptase immediately limiting the potential for HIV drugs to be used as treatment. Lamivudine could potentially be bound to by the Ebola virus but there has not been sufficient testing at this point to confirm its efficacy and given its direct impact on the Liver, which is attacked severely by the virus, the treatment window may be very small if proven effective. Acyclovir and AZT are unlikely candidates since neither offers an analogue used in RNA dependent RNA polymerase. Specifically Acyclovir targets DNA polymerase while Ebola is an RNA virus and AZT is a thymidine analogue.

Experimentation is a vital part of scientific progress and Dr. Gobee Logan is pioneering some interesting tests in a world where western pharmaceutical companies find themselves bound by regulations and process. The regulations have a purpose and serve to protect not only industries but also human lives by ensuring proper testing and safety precautions are taken before prescribing medications. Despite regulation, the Ebola Outbreak will need drastic action and Doctors will understandably push the limits and boundaries as they attempt to save lives.

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