Ask the Doctor
November 25, 2014
What is ebola?

Dear Doc,



Dear Brian,

Ebola Virus Disease/Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever or simply Ebola is a disease caused by the Ebola Virus.

This highly infectious disease was first noted in the medical literature after an outbreak in 1976 in Zaire. The virus, thought to be carried by fruit bats, which are immune to it, can infect primates like humans, monkey and ape species, resulting in symptoms inclusive of fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding and death.{{more}} The disease killed more than 90 per cent of persons infected then, but with recent infections, the death rate is about 70 per cent. The reduced death rate is attributed to our ability to keep persons alive until their bodies develop some immunity, but there are no vaccines and only experimental drugs are available.

There are approximately five recognizable strains of the virus. Strains were noted in the Phillipines and West Africa. The strain found in West Africa, and particularly Zaire, Sierra Leone and Zambia, has been the one that causes the highest rate of infections and deaths.


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