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Ebola hemorrhagic fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever

© Illustration Bruno Laporte

Microorganism: the Ebola virus, from the Filoviridae family

Disease: Ebola virus disease, or Ebola hemorrhagic fever

Occurrence of the disease

History: in 1976, 550 cases of Ebola virus disease were reported in Zaire and Sudan; 430 of these patients died.

Current situation: in industrialized countries, cases of Ebola virus disease are extremely rare.

Forecast: many researchers worry that under favorable circumstances, the viruses causing hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola could cause many more casualties than the current AIDS pandemic. Our susceptibility to these viruses is one of the great weaknesses of mankind.

Mechanism of action of the microorganism: the devastating effects of the virus make it very difficult to study its mechanism of action. It is generally accepted that the destruction of tissue is a direct result of the multiplication of the virus.

Symptoms of the disease: sudden fever, discomfort, myalgia (muscle pain), headache, pharyngitis, vomiting, skin rash, hemorrhage accompanied by the failure of one or more organs, death.

Incubation period: from two to 21 days

Contagious period: as long as secretions or blood contain the virus.

Hosts: unknown, in spite of much research

Transmission: person to person transmission occurs by direct contact with blood, secretions, organs, or infected serum.

Treatment: not available

Geographical distribution of the microorganism: Africa

Prevention: isolation of infected individuals

Vaccine: not available