Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often-fatal viral disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) caused by infection with the Ebolavirus. The first recorded outbreaks occurred simultaneously in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Traditionally affected countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Uganda. However, outbreaks have also been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.
Health authorities believe the initial infections in an outbreak occur when people come into contact with an infected animal or its tissues. EVD is then transmitted from person to person through close contact with the blood, vomit, or diarrhea of the infected person and by exposure to contaminated body fluids, infected needles, and direct contact with a deceased infected person. Poor infection control practices allow the infection to spread within healthcare settings.
EVD generally has a fatality rate of 50 to 90 percent, with early access to treatment significantly reducing mortality. The incubation period is approximately two to 21 days.
Signs and Symptoms
- Joint and muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- External/internal bleeding
There is no current immunization for this disease, although several are under development.
There is no specific treatment for EVD. Patients receive supportive therapy: balancing the patient's fluids, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating the individual for any complicating infections.
People who are dealing with infected persons should wear protective clothing (masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles). Travelers should avoid eating and handling meat from primates (bushmeat); people are also at risk when fluids from infected animals come in contact with cuts or abrasions. Avoid travel to areas experiencing outbreaks.
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