Ebola is a terrifying virus that will, in all probability, kill anyone who contracts it. However, what happens before you die is even more terrifying than death itself. What happens when you have Ebola? This list has the answers, and none of them are pretty. To those who are squeamish or who have sensitive stomachs, you've been warned.
So how does Ebola kill you? Many people are familiar with the basic symptoms of Ebola. There's fatigue, rampant bleeding, vomiting, and many more horrifying symptoms. But what exactly is happening to your body when you have Ebola? To put it simply, there's a virus that is wrecking you from the inside out, and it all starts in your blood stream. Before you even notice it, the virus can already be turning deadly.
So, if you're absolutely sure you're up for it, take a deep breath and put down whatever you're eating, because we're about to delve into the gory details of what it's like to die from Ebola.
Touching Even a Trace Amount of Bodily Fluid Can Infect You
To be absolutely clear, you cannot get Ebola from breathing the same air as someone else, sitting next to someone else, or even giving someone else a hug. Ebola is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, or someone who has recently died from infection. These fluids include blood, saliva, semen, feces, and urine.
If you touch something that has even a trace amount of one of these fluids on it, then touch your own nose, eyes, or mouth, you've got a problem. You can also get Ebola from animal bites, such as those from bats, or from handling the dead body of someone who recently died from Ebola. However, someone can't spread the virus to you unless they're already showing symptoms, so you would probably be able to tell when you're at risk.
But once you've got Ebola, you're in for a seriously hellish ride.
The Ebola Virus Grows Inside Your Cells, Then Bursts Out
You remember those chest-bursters in Alien? Well, imagine that happening on a microscopic level inside your cells. Once the Ebola virus gets into your blood, it passes throughout your body and into your cells. Inside your cells, the virus begins to replicate, then bursts out. When it does this, it creates a protein that attaches to the cells lining the inside of your blood vessels. These proteins (called ebolavirus glycoproteins) make your blood vessels more permeable, which means that your blood can leak out more easily.
Your Blood Will Stop Clotting
Ebola also makes it so your blood can't coagulate. Once inside your bloodstream, the virus confuses the part of your body that thickens your blood and makes it clot, which in turn thins your blood and makes it difficult for you to stop bleeding.
In other words, once you start bleeding, it's hard to stop; and because your cells are already leaking blood, it's going to be easy for you to lose a lot of blood without even noticing, on a cellular level.
But doesn't your body have ways to fight off problems like this? Well, usually it would, except...
The Virus Will Use Your Own White Blood Cells Against You
Your white blood cells are like bodyguards that live in your bloodstream, there to protect you from foreign pathogens that wants to hurt you. In a healthy body, they do a pretty good job. However, the Ebola virus knows exactly how to get those bodyguards all mixed up.
First, the virus blocks signals to those cells, so that they don't recognize that something is seriously wrong. That means your immune system won't come to your aid. Then, the Ebola virus will infect your immune system cells and use them to travel to organs like the liver, kidneys, and even brain. So not only is the virus ducking your defenses, it's using those defenses to cause even more damage.