Ebola Epidemic: What is Ebola?

Make sure you know the facts about the Ebola virus. (UK Public Health)
Make sure you know the facts about the Ebola virus. (UK Public Health)

The Ebola virus epidemic

Some countries have warned against traveling to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone due to the number of cases reported of the Ebola virus. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to date, more that 1320 cases have been recorded in the three countries and more than 725 have died. These numbers make this epidemic the largest Ebola virus in history.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus that is also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It is a native disease of African countries that is spread by direct contact, person to person, through body fluids, or by touching contaminated objects or infected animals.

It is caused by one of the ebola viruses: Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, or Tai Forest virus. A fifth virus, Reston virus, has not been identified in humans.

What are the symptoms?

The person could suffer from fever, headaches, skin rashes, sore throat, weakness, muscle and joint aches, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Internal and external bleeding can also be seen, and explain the ‘hemorrhagic fever’ part of the name.

It is a very rare and deadly disease as there is no cure. Those who survive have developed enough antibodies to fight the infection.

ebola-virus-ecology

This graph indicates the life cycle of the Ebola virus showing the reservoirs and hosts of these viruses. (CDC.gov)

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