WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT THE EBOLA VIRUS!
Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%. The outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with the infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
It is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.
No licensed vaccine for EVD is available. Several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use.
In the absence of effective treatment and a human vaccine, raising awareness of the risk factors for Ebola infection and the protective measures individuals can take is the only way to reduce human infection and death.
SOURCE: World Health Organization Media Centre