Ebola in Pregnancy

Ebola VirusEbola virus disease has been quite rampant these days. It may be a rare viral illness but it is severe and can lead to a serious epidemic. Ebola virus was first identified in the year 1976 during a fever outbreak in the Ebola River in Zaire.

What is known today about the virus specifically in pregnancy is dependent on the knowledge about the previous outbreaks of Ebola disease in Africa. Moreover, pregnancy information was not systematically collected on the areas affected by the disease. The limited data collected though shows that pregnant women who are infected with the virus are at increased risk for severe illness and death.

There is no evidence that shows that pregnant women are more vulnerable to the virus.  However, expecting mothers who are infected with the disease are at a higher risk of abortion and other pregnancy-related illnesses. Babies who are born to mothers who are infected with Ebola virus have not survived and the causes of their deaths remain to be unidentified.

At the beginning of the outbreak, there were 318 cases of acute viral hemorrhagic fever in Yambuku area of Zaire which was linked to the administration of injections with contaminated needles. These were vitamin injections that were administrated as part of their prenatal care. About 82 pregnant women had spontaneous abortions during the outbreak and about 11 babies died with only 19 days of life.

Current Situation in Africa for Mothers and Infants Health Issues

In previous cases, the infection rates of Ebola virus are higher in women than in men. Cultural practices among the African population plays an important role in this result. Women are disproportionately affected by the disease because they play the role of caregivers for sick children and other family members.

Because of the unexpected increase in the rate of the Ebola virus outbreak, the already overburdened health services provided in the area will be weakened further. Hospitals and clinics serve as significant areas for the transmission of Ebola virus due to the lack of trained staff and necessary equipment to implement necessary measures to control the spread of the disease.

This is one of the reasons why pregnant women in Africa are reluctant to get pregnancy-related health care. They are hesitant to get injections such as progestin injectables which is why unintended pregnancy in the area is also increasing. Furthermore, the population’s fear for contaminated needles may also lead to decreased vaccination rates not only among pregnant women but also their children.

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