What is the Ebola Virus?

Ebola is the shortened name for a condition caused by the Ebola Virus (EBV). It is part of a family of viruses known as ebolavirus.

Ebola is largely known to cause bleeding both internally (inside the body) and externally. It can also be classified as a virus that causes Hemorrhagic Fever.

One of the many causes for concern is that this condition has a very high death rate – also known as mortality rate. It was first discovered in 1976 in Zaire and Sudan. And at that time, it had a death rate of 90%.

One of the first outbreaks occurred near the Ebola river and so was given its name. The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal or person. Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.

Ugandans suspected of being infected with Ebola in hospital

Ebolavirus Family

Ebola Virus (EBV) is caused by four out of the five viruses in this genus Ebolavirus, Family Filoviridae, and order Mononegavirales.

1.)  Bundibugyo virus

2.)  Sudan virus

3.)  Tai Forest virus

4.)  Ebola virus  (previously known as Zaire ebolavirus)

*** – Ebola virus is the most dangerous

5.)  Reston virus  –  thought not to be a disease-causing in humans.


–  The virus is acquired by several different manners.
–  Initially, the contact is through animals that are infected – fruit bats or monkeys and even pigs.
–  Fruit bats often spread the virus without being affected themselves.
–  Usually, transmission occurs when a human comes into contact with the blood of these animals.
–  Once human infection occurs, the disease spreads through contact with blood or body fluids.
–  It is believed that male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for up to two months post-infection.


–  Fever
–  Headache
–  Sore Throat
–  Muscle Aches
–  Joint aches
–  Rash  –  seen in 50% of patients
–  Fatigue
–  Abdominal pain
–  Nausea
–  Vomiting  with or without blood
–  Diarrhea
–  Bleeding  (Internal and External)
–  Kidney Failure
–  Liver problems
–  More


The first diagnosis is made based on the presenting patient and their symptoms.

Confirmation done through blood samples

–  Viral antibodies.
–  Viral RNA
–  Virus itself


Decrease the spread of the disease within the animal involved.

Checking animals for infection, then killing them and properly disposing of their bodies.

Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat would also be helpful.

Wearing protective gloves and washing hands.

Caution if you handle blood, tissue samples, body fluids and more of those infected or suspected to be infected.


This is a controversial and evolving area.

There is no specific treatment for the disease.

Dehydration, fever, fatigue can all be improved through medicine, oral fluids, IV fluids and more.

Quarantine is often necessary to help prevent transmission.

There are two medications that are being tested in the United States

This is considered a dire circumstance and the use of these medications despite not being approved by the FDA.

Previous Outbreaks

1.)  First identified in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo  –  Around 1976

2.)  1995 – 245 people killed in Kikwit – Congo

3.)  August 2007 – 103 people affected in Village of Kampung – Congo

4.)  November 2007 – Feb 2008 – 137 cases with 37 deaths in Bundibugyo District, Uganda

5.)  December 2008 – 45 cases with 20 deaths in Western Kasai – Congo

6.)  May 2011 – 1 girl died in Uganda – no other cases reported.

7.)  July 2012 – August 2012 – 16 deaths with 53 cases – Kibaale, Uganda

8.)  August 2012 – 15+ cases and 32 deaths – Isiro and Viadana, Congo

9.)  Typically seen in Sub-Saharan Africa  –  about 1,000 people per year are infected.  1976-2013

10.)  Largest outbreak is 2014 in West Africa –  Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and more are countries affected. Nearing 2,000 cases reported.

2014 started in December 2013 with two-year old.  In Guinea

April 2014 – Guinea has had 157 cases, Liberia had 22 cases, Sierra Leone had 8 cases, and Mali had 1 case

By July – 1440 cases and 826 deaths

Two American Medical providers were exposed in Liberia – they were transported to isolation at Emory University Hospital