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Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever)

Ebola Virus Disease Quick Facts

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), also referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe and often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas.
  • Ebola virus disease is caused by Ebola virus, named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, where it was first recognized.
  • Ebola virus disease outbreaks occur mainly in villages in Central and West Africa and have a mortality rate up to 90%.
  • The Ebola virus is thought to be transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human contact.
  • Symptoms of Ebola virus disease occur suddenly up to 21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, sore throat, joint and muscle aches, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Some patients may bleed inside and outside the body.
  • Treatment is supportive care. There is no licensed drug or vaccine available, but experimental therapy is being tested.

Ebola Virus Disease History

The first Ebola virus species was discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) near the Ebola River, where it received its name. The first outbreak of Ebola virus disease infected 318 people and caused 280 deaths, with a mortality rate of 88%. A simultaneous outbreak occurred in Sudan and caused a mortality rate of 53%. Since then, sporadic outbreaks have occurred in Central and West Africa, with no cases reported between 1979 and 1994. In 1989, an Ebola virus strain, called Ebola-Reston, was introduced into Reston, Virginia, by infected monkeys imported from the Philippines. Fortunately, research workers who were exposed to the Ebola virus never developed symptoms of Ebola virus disease.

The latest and ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014. It is considered the worst outbreak in Ebola virus history with a rising death toll in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. As of August 2014, there were almost 2,000 cases with over 1,000 deaths reported. Previous outbreaks had fewer than 500 cases in a year.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/14/2014
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