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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.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a short history since it was discovered in 1976. There have been a few outbreaks, including the current (April 2014) “unprecedented epidemic” in Africa.


Symptoms and signs of Ebola virus disease include an incubation period of two to 21 days, starting with abrupt fever, headache, jointand muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness; progression of symptoms include diarrhea,vomiting, stomach pain, hiccups, and rash with more devastating symptoms of internal and external bleeding in many patients.
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 ELISAand/or PCR tests; viral cultivation and biopsy samples may also be used.
There is no standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever; only supportive therapy is available.
There are many complications from Ebola hemorrhagic fever; the prognosis for patients ranges from fair to poor since many patients died from the disease (death rate equals 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.
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