You've Got What? Ebola Virus disease
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Ebola virus disease is caused by an Ebola virus, of which there are five species. Ebola virus disease is also known as Ebola, and was previously called Ebola haemorrhagic fever.
Ebola virus disease is a type of viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF), which are life threatening infections whose symptoms can include fever and bleeding.
Outbreaks of Ebola virus disease in humans have occurred only in Africa, specifically in, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, the Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. There has never been a case in Australia.
Ebola virus disease is a notifiable condition1
Many VHF viruses are found naturally amongst wild animals, such as bats, rodents (for example, rats and mice), monkeys and apes. Occasionally these viruses break through into the human population and cause outbreaks, then usually disappear for many years.
The natural animal host of Ebola virus is unknown. It is likely the first patient in a cluster or outbreak becomes infected with Ebola virus through contact with an infected animal.
Ebola virus disease can be transmitted from person to person via:
Initial symptoms are flu-like and may include:
Illness then progresses with symptoms such as:
Some people go on to develop bleeding problems, multi-organ failure and death. Bleeding problems may include bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting or coughing blood, bruising, rashes and internal bleeding.
The death rate of Ebola virus disease depends on the species. For Zaire species of Ebola virus it is estimated to be between 50% and 90%.
Cases are diagnosed by PCR on a blood specimen.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
From 2 to 21 days, most commonly 8 to 10 days.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
People are not infectious until the onset of symptoms. People are infectious as long as blood and secretions contain virus.
People with any symptoms of Ebola virus disease who have been in contact with someone with Ebola virus disease (or their blood or body fluids) should go to a hospital, preferably by ambulance, (and tell the ambulance and hospital staff of their exposure) to get treatment and avoid spreading the disease to others.
1 – In South Australia the law requires doctors and laboratories to report some infections or diseases to SA Health. These infections or diseases are commonly referred to as 'notifiable conditions'.