Symptoms and Signs of Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/6/2021

Doctor's Notes on Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever)

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 outbreaks occur mainly in villages in Central and West Africa and have a mortality rate up to 90%. Wild animals transmit the Ebola virus to people, and the Ebola virus spreads in the human population through human-to-human contact.

Symptoms of Ebola occur suddenly between 2-21 days after exposure and include fever, headache, sore throat, joint and muscle aches and pain, weakness, and loss of appetite, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Some patients may develop symptoms such as a skin rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, difficulty breathing, and chest pain. Late symptoms of Ebola include bleeding from inside and outside the body (eyes, ears, and nose), vomiting and/or coughing up blood, mental confusion, seizures, shock, and coma.

What Is the Treatment for Ebola Virus Disease?

Two medications were approved in 2020 to treat Ebola virus disease. These are both monoclonal antibody medications directed at the surface molecules of the virus, preventing the virus from entering the body's cells.

Other treatments for Ebola virus disease fall into the category of supportive care, which includes measures to support body functions and reduce symptoms, such as:

  • Supporting hydration by providing fluids and electrolytes
  • Medications to regulate blood pressure, manage vomiting and diarrhea, and control fever and pain
  • Breathing support, if required
  • Treatment of any other infections, if present

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.