Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
(Ebola Virus Disease)

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Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola virus disease) facts

  • Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by four different strains of Ebola virus; these viruses infect humans and nonhuman primates. It is also referred to as Ebola virus disease.
  • Compared to most illnesses, Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a short history since it was discovered in 1976. There have been a few outbreaks, including the current (April 2014-May 2015) "unprecedented epidemic" in Africa that is now abating.
  • After an incubation period of two to 21 days, symptoms and signs of Ebola virus disease include
  • Progression of Ebola symptoms includes
  • Ebola viruses are mainly found in primates in Africa and possibly the Philippines; there are only occasional outbreaks of infection in humans. Ebola hemorrhagic fever occurs mainly in Africa in the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Ivory Coast, and Uganda, but it may occur in other African countries.
  • Ebola virus can be spread by direct contact with blood and secretions, by contact with blood and secretions that remain on clothing, and by needles and/or syringes used to treat Ebola-infected patients.
  • Risk factors for Ebola hemorrhagic fever are travel to areas with endemic Ebola hemorrhagic fever and/or any close association with an infected person.
  • Early clinical diagnosis is difficult as the symptoms are nonspecific; however, if the patient is suspected to have Ebola, the patient needs to be isolated and local and state health departments need to be immediately contacted.
  • Definitive diagnostic tests for Ebola hemorrhagic fever are ELISA and/or PCR tests; viral cultivation and biopsy samples may also be used.
  • There is no standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever; only supportive therapy and experimental treatment is available.
  • There are many complications from Ebola hemorrhagic fever causing a high mortality rate (reported mortality rates equal about 25%-100%).
  • Prevention of Ebola hemorrhagic fever is difficult; early testing and isolation of the patient plus barrier protection for caregivers (mask, gown, goggles, and gloves) is very important to prevent others from getting infected.
  • Researchers are trying to understand the Ebola virus and pinpoint its ecological reservoirs to better understand how outbreaks occur. Researchers are actively trying to establish an effective vaccine against Ebola viruses by using several experimental methods, but there is no vaccine available currently.
Picture of the Ebola virus
Picture of the Ebola virus
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/13/2015

Ebola Virus Pictures Slideshow: Outbreak, Symptoms, and Facts

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Ebola Symptoms & Signs

Symptoms of Ebola virus infection are similar to those produced by other hemorrhagic fever viruses and include

  • fever,
  • fatigue, malaise, and weakness,
  • reddened eyes,
  • joint and muscle pain,
  • headache,
  • nausea and vomiting.

Additional Ebola symptoms may include

  • diarrhea,
  • stomach pain and loss of appetite,
  • cough, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing,
  • rash,
  • hiccups,
  • chest pain,
  • breathing problems.

As the disease worsens in severity, symptoms can include bleeding at various sites within or outside of the body.

Read more about Ebola symptoms and signs

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