Ebola virus disease appeared in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. The first recorded case was of a man infected by the use of an unsterile needle to inject chloroquine for treatment of malaria. There were 20 more outbreaks by 2013, and another outbreak began in January 2014 in Guinea and Liberia.
The causative virus is from the family Filoviridae, with the genus Ebolavirus and 5 different species. Fruit bats from the Pteropodidae family are believed to be hosts to the virus, although no case has been verified of direct transmission from bats to humans. Transmission to humans is by body fluids from a human or from another animal. Populations of chimpanzees and gorillas have been reduced by Ebola infections.
Incubation period for Ebola is 2-21 days, and symptoms are fever, headache, muscle pains and gastrointestinal symptoms. Blood pressure drops and failure of lungs, kidney and liver can cause organ failure. Internal and external bleeding may cause death. Laboratory testing must be done in a specialized laboratory which can handle highly infectious body fluids safely. Death rates vary with one estimate being 66%.*
The frequency of travel and the ease of transmission of the Ebola virus makes it likely that many countries will need to deal with this serious problem soon.
CONCLUSION: Ebola virus disease has a high rate of mortality and great ease of transmission. The result can be devastating and must be met now by developed countries.
NOTE: *Survival rates are improved by good medical care. As of October, 2014, there have been 6000 cases of the disease according to some current medical literature. There have been at least 7 cases in the United States.
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