Healthcare Paper on Communicable Diseases: Ebola

Communicable Diseases: Ebola

Description of the communicable disease

Ebola is a rare and deadly virus disease that causes hemorrhagic fever. Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is caused by an infection emanating from one of the Ebola virus strains and it can affect both humans and non-human such as primates. The symptoms of Ebola may appear between 2 to 21 days upon exposure to any of the virus strains. These symptoms include severe headache, fever, fatigue, vomiting, muscle pains, and unexplained hemorrhage (Webber, 2016).

When Ebola infects humans, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person. This can be through mucous membrane or broken skin. Contact with bloody or body fluids of an infected person are also another mode of transmission. These include feces, saliva, semen, breast milk, and urine. Sharing of sharp objects, such as needles and syringes that have been contaminated by an infected person can also be an additional mode of transmission. Other modes of transmission include contact with infected primates and fruits bats.

One of the major complications associated with Ebola is that those providing healthcare services to Ebola patients especially family and close friends are at a high risk of contracting the disease because of the high possibility that they may be exposed to infected body fluids or blood. This makes caregiving to Ebola patients a relatively complicated phenomenon (Webber, 2016).

In terms of treatment, there is no approved vaccine to prevent the infection. There are preventive mechanisms, which include avoiding contact with the body fluids or blood of an infected person. Preventive measures include wearing protective gears such as gowns, masks, gloves, and goggles when handling infect or potentially infectious persons. Additional measures include using complete sterilization of equipment and routine use of disinfectants. Furthermore, Ebola patients must be isolated to minimize contact with uninfected persons (Webber, 2016).


Demographic Interest

Since the discovery of Ebola virus in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, there have been intermittent outbreaks of the virus especially in central and West Africa. Ebola virus disease has a high mortality rate, which is virtually 100%, considering that there no treatment that have been proven effective despite the ongoing evaluation and experimental treatments (Webber, 2016).

Majority of the outbreak reported following the discovery were on primates. However, the disease is rare in terms of prevalence. The 2014 outbreak in West Africa is considered as the largest and most complex. This is because of the high number of cases and deaths. Part of the reasons for the outbreak was associated with weak health systems, long periods of conflicts and instability, and insufficient human and infrastructural resources (Webber, 2016).

Determinants of Health

Behavioral practices and cultural beliefs in countries that were worst hit by the virus were considered as the major health determinates facilitating the spread of the virus. In West Africa, these included strict adherence to burial and funeral rites. Reliance on traditional healers and medicine men has also contributed to the spread of the disease. Poor access health care services in government health facilities increased the popularity of traditional healers. Furthermore, upon outbreak of the disease, hospitals are often considered as places associated with high mortality rate and contagion areas (Abubakar et al, 2016).

Strikes by heath caregivers and community resistance have disrupted prevention and control of the virus. This is because of the fears and misconceptions concerning the unfamiliar and complex nature of the virus (Abubakar et al, 2016).

High population mobility across porous borders contributed to the creation of significant impediments to the preventive measures of Ebola. Patients from neighboring countries seeking better medical services reignited the transmission chains in such areas (Abubakar et al, 2016).

Poor health infrastructure in poorest countries that have been worst hit by the virus contributed to its spread. West African countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia were emerging from years of civil unrest, which left most of the healthcare infrastructure damaged and left most of the healthcare providers with limited knowledge and experience on the provision of healthcare services. Poor infrastructure facilitated the spread of the disease since it resulted in the delay in the transmission of patients to treatment and healthcare centers (Webber, 2016).

Epidemiologic triangle as it relates to Ebola


Ebola is a rare disease arising from an infection with various strains, which bong to the family of Filoviridae genus Ebolavirus. According to research, there are five Ebola viruses. Four of these viruses can cause Ebola in humans. These include Tai Forest ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus (Macha & McDonough, 2015).


The natural reservoir host for Ebola virus is still unknown. However, based on evidence and nature of related viruses, research states that the virus is animal borne and the fruit bat is the most likely reservoir. During its initial outbreak, the first patients became infected through contact with an infected primate or fruit bat. Human to human transmission is often associated with a large number of affected people. This is especially when there are poor healthcare systems and insufficient information on the best preventive and control mechanisms. In other situations, Ebola infections occurred when people ate or touched infected animals (Macha & McDonough, 2015).


Three West African countries that were highly affected by Ebola in 2014 include Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These countries were highly affected because of poor healthcare systems and cultural believes (Macha & McDonough, 2015).

The Role of the Community Health Nurse

When handling Ebola cases part of the roles of a community health nurse include research. When conducting research, a community health nurse is expected to conduct case finding, develop, and present reports, collect data, data analysis, and conduct follow up on the patients of Ebola to ensure sufficient health care. Research in Ebola related cases might range from conducting simple inquiries to relatively complex organizational studies (Webber, 2016).

Community health nurses in West Africa, while handling Ebola cases played the role of community collaborators. They facilitated the creation of effective and mutual relationships between physicians, social workers, and members of the affected communities. Collaboration was an essential aspect in managing the diseases because it encouraged the incorporation of joint efforts in mitigating the risks associated with Ebola (Abubakar et al, 2016).

Community health workers also play the role of advocacy due to high demand for quality health services. Through their advocacy works, community nurses have the responsibility of ensuring that other health care providers are more responsive in the provision of health care while at the same time improving on the accessibility of health care services especially among Ebola patients. One technique that community health workers in West Africa used in advocating for better health care services was through mobilization and sensitization of communities affected on the best technique of handling Ebola related cases. Through this approach, community health nurses were able to influence change, which was essential in making the health care system more responsive and relevant to the needs of the affected communities (Abubakar et al, 2016).

The provision of healthcare services is the main responsbility of community health nurse especially while managing Ebola cases. While providing this service, they ensure that the affected community members receive proper care and attention. In addition, they are responsible for ensuring that the available resources are used for their intended purpose (Webber, 2016).

Center for Disease Control (CDC) and management of Ebola

Since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014, Center for Disease Control together with the World Health Organization and other United States government agencies have formed collaborative efforts to respond to the outbreak. Through the activation of its Emergency Operations Center (EOC), CDC has been instrumental in coordinating technical assistance and disease management activities in the affected West African countries (Abubakar et al, 2016).

Through thousands of its staff, CDC has been able to provide essential logistical, analytical, communication function on the affected West African countries. These services have been perceived crucial in data management, laboratory testing and health education. CDC personnel have also been deployed in non-affected areas to enable the development of effective strategies on how to assess Ebola readiness in such countries (Abubakar et al, 2016). CDC through its personnel have contributed to the reduction of Ebola transmission rates by proving training and sensitization programs to health workers to support local communities through medical and hygiene expertise. The organization has also been able to build additional community care centers in rural parts of countries such as Liberia to ensure the provision of quality and safe healthcare (Abubakar et al, 2016).




Abubakar, I., Stagg, H., Cohen, T. & Rodrigues, L. (2016). Oxford specialist handbook of

infectious disease epidemiology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press

Macha, K. & McDonough, J. P. (2015). Epidemiology for advanced nursing practice. Sudbury,

MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Webber, R. (2016). Communicable diseases. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: Cabi Publishing.