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Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) or simply Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by ebolaviruses. It is a virus that causes severe bleeding, organ failure and often fatal in humans and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas.


Ebola virus disease is named after a river called Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, where it was first recognized in 1976. The first outbreak of Ebola virus disease infected 318 people and caused 280 deaths, with a mortality rate of 88%.




Ebola is one of several viral haemorrhagic fevers, caused by infection with a virus of the Filoviridae family, genus Ebolavirus. The Ebola virus has been found in mostly African monkeys, chimpanzees, and other nonhuman primates. The natural reservoir (normal habitat) of Ebola viruses is unknown. However, researchers believe that the virus is zoonotic (animal-borne) with bats being the most likely reservoir.


There are five identified species (types) of Ebola virus. Four of the five have caused disease in humans:

  • Zaire ebolavirus

  • Sudan ebolavirus

  • Taï Forest ebolavirus (formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus)

  • Bundibugyo ebolavirus

  • Reston ebolavirus (known to cause disease in nonhuman primates and pigs, but not in humans)


The deadliest Ebola virus species is Zaire ebolavirus.



Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus, but an average of about 8 to 10 days is most common. Symptoms of Ebola virus infection are similar to those produced by other hemorrhagic fever viruses and include

  • fever

  • headache

  • sore throat

  • joint and muscle pain

  • sweating

  • dehydration

  • malaise

  • weakness, and

  • loss of appetite.


Risk Factors

The risk of getting Ebola virus disease is low for most people. Most cases of illness or death have occurred in Africa. The risk increases if a person travels to or lives in where Ebola virus disease outbreaks have occurred. Those at highest risk include the following:

  • Health-care workers, and family and friends who have cared for an infected person with Ebola virus disease

  • Laboratory personnel working with bodily fluids of an Ebola virus disease patient

  • Animal researchers with direct handling of bats or primates from an area where Ebola virus disease has occurred

  • Individuals participating in funeral rites in which there is direct exposure to human remains where an Ebola virus disease outbreak is occurring


There is currently no approved vaccine available for Ebola, although several are in development. If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:

  • Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids (such as urine, faeces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids).

  • Make sure fruits and vegetables are properly washed and peeled before you eat them.

  • Avoid physical contact with anyone who has possible symptoms of an infection.

  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).

  • Don't handle dead animals or their raw meat.

  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.

  • Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.

  • Avoid facilities where Ebola patients are being treated.

  • Avoid contact with semen from a man who has had Ebola until you know Ebola is gone from his semen.

  • After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.



Treatment for Ebola virus disease is still limited to supportive therapy in an intensive-care unit, which includes


intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes to treat dehydration,


maintaining blood pressure,


providing oxygen,


replacing blood through transfusions, and


treating additional infections that may develop subsequently.


There is no medical cure for Ebola virus disease because there is no licensed drug or vaccine available, but experimental therapy is being tried.


Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated May 13, 2018.

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