Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a viral infection caused by the Ebola virus, a rare but deadly virus.  This is considered one of the lethal viral infections, and has a high mortality rate during outbreak.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever was first noted in Zaire (currently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC) in 1976. Since that time, there have been multiple outbreaks of Ebola virus, and five strains have been identified; four of the strains are responsible for the high death rates. The four Ebola strains are termed as follows: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, and Bundibugyo virus, with Zaire being the most lethal strain. A fifth strain termed Reston has been found in the Philippines. The strain infects primates, pigs, and humans and causes few if any symptoms and no deaths in humans.

As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. It results in coagulation abnormalities; including gastrointestinal bleeding, development of a rash, cytokine release, damage to the liver, and large amount of viruses in the blood.

Risk factors for Ebola virus infection are the following:

  • Travelling to areas where Ebola virus have been reported.
  • Contact with animals, such as primates, in areas where infections have been reported.
  • Eating or handling “bush meat”, or the meat of wild animals, including hoofed animals, primates, bats, and rodents.
  • Contact to person with the infection.
  • Researchers who study Ebola.

Symptoms and signs may appear from about two to 21 days after exposure (average incubation period is eight to 10 days).

Early on, Ebola can feel like the flu or other illnesses. Symptoms show up 2 to 21 days after infection and usually include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

As the disease gets worse, it causes bleeding inside the body, as well as from the eyes, ears, and nose. Some people will vomit or cough up blood, have bloody diarrhea, and get a rash.

It is unclear why some patients can survive and others die from this disease, but patients who die usually have a poor immune response to the virus.


Ebola hemorrhagic fever is diagnosed by clinical suspicion due to contact with other individuals with Ebola and has signs and symptoms.

Tests such as ELISA, PCR, and virus isolation can provide definitive diagnosis. Later in the disease or if the patient recovers, IgM and IgG antibodies against the infecting Ebola strain can be detected; similarly, studies using immunohistochemistry testing, PCR, and virus isolation in deceased patients is also done usually for epidemiological purposes



According to the CDC and others, standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever is still limited to supportive therapy.  Any patients suspected of having Ebola hemorrhagic fever should be isolated, and caregivers should wear protective garments.

Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever according to the CDC. However, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Fluids and electrolytes
  • Oxygen
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Blood transfusions
  • Treatment for other infections

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