Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola HF) (cont.)

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What are Ebola virus disease symptoms and signs?

Unfortunately, early symptoms of Ebola virus disease are nonspecific and include the following: fever, headache, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, decreased appetite, and joint and muscle discomfort. As the disease progresses, patients may develop other symptoms and signs such as a rash, eye redness, hiccups, sore throat, cough, chest pain, bleeding both inside and outside the body (for example, mucosal surfaces, eyes), and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Ebola virus disease symptoms and signs may appear from about two to 21 days after exposure (average is eight to 10 days). It is unclear why some patients can survive and others die from this disease, but patients who die usually have a poor immune response to the virus.

How do physicians diagnose Ebola hemorrhagic fever?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is diagnosed preliminarily by clinical suspicion due to association with other individuals with Ebola and with the early symptoms described above. Within a few days after symptoms develop, tests such as ELISA, PCR, and virus isolation can provide definitive diagnosis. Later in the disease or if the patient recovers, IgM and IgG antibodies against the infecting Ebola strain can be detected; similarly, studies using immunohistochemistry testing, PCR, and virus isolation in deceased patients is also done usually for epidemiological purposes.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/8/2014

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