Ebola virus disease is a type of viral fever and is caused by viruses that belong to Ebola virus genus. There are 5 viruses:
  • Bundibugyo virus (BDBV)
  • Taï Forest virus (TAFV)
  • Sudan virus (SUDV)
  • Ebola virus (EBOV, also known as Zaire Ebola virus)
  • Reston virus (RESTV)
Except for Reston virus, all the other four viruses cause Ebola virus disease in humans. Of these four, Ebola virus, which is the cause of current outbreak across the globe, is most fatal and has become a matter of grave concern.

Facts About Ebola

  • The natural reservoir of Ebola viral pathogen is unknown. However, the first patient contracts the virus by coming in contact with infected animals such as fruit bats or primates. Thereafter, Ebola transmission happens from person-to-person.
  • Transmission of Ebola to a person occurs when one’s mouth, nose, eyes, break of skin, wound or abrasion comes into contact with body fluids of an infected person. Body fluids include blood, feces, sweat, urine, mucus, vomit and breast milk.
  • The infection can also spread through sexual intercourse with an infected person.
  • There is no evidence that suggests Ebola is an air-borne disease. Hence, it does not spread through coughing or sneezing. However, large droplets of respiratory or other secretions spread infection.
  • Incubation period of Ebola varies between 2-21 days. During the incubation period, Ebola is non contagious. However, it becomes contagious when a patient starts showing symptoms.
  • Ebola Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, impaired function of kidney and liver and internal and external bleeding.
  • Tests employed in diagnosis of Ebola include antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), antigen-capture detection test, serum neutralization test, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, electron microscopy and virus isolation.
  • Ebola treatment is non-specific, as there are no approved anti-Ebola medications available currently. The infected person is provided with intravenous fluids for re-hydration. Balancing of body salts, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure help in recovery.
  • Recovery from Ebola depends upon one’s immune system and supportive care given. People who recover from Ebola can develop antibodies in their body, which last for a minimum of 10 years, making them immune to Ebola infection for that period of time.
  • Currently, no approved Ebola vaccine is available. However, human testing of potential vaccine for Ebola is underway.
  • In the affected areas, Ebola spread can be prevented by practicing hygiene, washing hands with a sanitizer, safe burial of the dead, use of personal protective equipment, careful disposal of virus contaminated syringes and needles.
  • Use of alcohol based products, sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite at appropriate concentrations to disinfect surfaces can help in the elimination of the virus.
  • Avoidance of Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) for people with Ebola can help in curbing the spread of the infection.


1. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html?s_cid=cs_284

2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

3. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/qas.html

4. http://www.hpae.org/ebola_factsheet1

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