Ebola virus disease also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by Ebola virus. This virus was first identified in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Between 1976, when it was first identified through 2013, fewer than 1000 people per year have been infected. The largest outbreak to date is the on-going 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which is affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and  Nigeria.

Ebola virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal (commonly monkeys and fruit bats). It is not naturally transmitted through the air. Fruit bats are believed to carry and spread the virus without being affected. Once human becomes infected, the disease spread between people. During an outbreak, those at the highest risk are health care workers and close contacts of those with the infection. 

The signs and symptoms of Ebola Virus disease usually begin suddenly with a flu-like stage. The average time between contracting the infection and the start of symptoms is 8-10 days, but can occur between 2 to 21 days. The signs and symptoms are characterized by

·        Fatigue

·        Fever

·        Headache

·        Joint, muscle and abdominal pain

·        Bloody vomit

·        Diarrhea

·        Loss of appetite

·        Sore throat

·        Chest pain

·        Hiccup

·        Shortness of breath

·        Trouble swallowing

·        Rashes

·        Bleeding(on the skin)

·        Internal bleeding(systemic)

·        Redness of the eye

How can this disease be transmitted?

How Ebola virus disease is spread is not yet entirely clear. Ebola virus disease is believed to occur after an Ebola virus is transmitted to an initial human by contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids. Bats drop partially eaten fruits and pulp, then land animals such as gorillas and duikers and other domestic animals such as dogs, goat e.t.c feed on these fallen fruits. This chain of events form a possible indirect means of transmission from the natural host to animal populations which have led to research towards viral shedding in the saliva of bats.

Human to human transmission can occur through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids from an infected person (Including  the embalming of an infected dead person), or by contact with contaminated medical equipment, particularly needles and syringes.

Medical workers who do not wear appropriate protective clothing may also contract the disease.


There is no Ebola virus –specific treatment. Though, early treatment may increase chance of survival. Treatment is primarily supportive and includes;

  •        Minimizing invasive procedures.
  •     Balancing fluids and electrolytes to counter dehydration.
  •    Administration of anti-coagulants early in infection to prevent or control disseminated intravascular coagulation.
  •    Administration of procoagulants in infection to control bleeding.
  •       Maintaining oxygen levels.
  •     Pain management.
  •      Use of medications to treat bacterial or fungal secondary infections.

How can Ebola virus disease be prevented?

  • Behavioral changes

a.     Wearing protective clothing such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.

b.     Hand washing

c.      Sterilization of equipment

d.     Airline crews who fly to these areas of the world where Ebola virus has been identified  should be taught to identify Ebola and are also to isolate anyone who has symptoms.

  •         Quarantine

This is also known as enforced isolation and is usually effective in decreasing the spread of this deadly disease.

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