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What is Ebola?

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans. Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.

Ebola is one of the deadliest types of hemorrhagic fevers, which are viral infections that cause severe bleeding. In people with Ebola, the virus makes blood vessels weak, which leads to the bleeding. A high fever also accompanies the illness. Death occurs in up to 90% of people who are infected with Ebola. The illness occurs in sporadic outbreaks, always originating in equatorial Afria. The 2014 outbreak of Ebola has been by far the worst on record. 

Dr. Darria Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

Ebola is a virus in the family of hemorrhagic fever viruses. In this video, I will discuss the origins of Ebola, as well as the symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.