Ebola Virus

By: Sierra Martin


Ebola is part of the filovirus family

Four known strains of Ebola.

· Ebola Sudan (Median unit lengths of EBOS virions range from 974 to 1063 nm)

· Ebola Zaire (Median unit lengths of EBOZ virions range from 990 to 1086 nm)

· Ebola Cote d'Ivoire

· Ebola Reston (Median unit lengths of EBOR virions range from 1026 to 1083 nm)

Infectious Ebola virions are…

· 920 nm in length

· 80 nm in diameter

· Membrane stolen from the host cell by budding

The virus encodes for a nucleoprotein, a glycoprotein, 7 polypeptides, a polymerase, and 4 other undesignated proteins. These proteins are made from polyadenylated mRNA transcribed in the host cell from the virus RNA.

Ebola and Marburg are the only members of the filovirus family

The Disease

Ebola or Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus species. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus.


The genome of ebola virus contains instructions for building seven proteins. The virus is surrounded by a membrane stolen from an infected cell, and studded with ebola glycoproteins. A layer of matrix proteins support the membrane on the inside, and hold a cylindrical nucleocapsid at the center, which stores and delivers the RNA genome. At the center of the virus, a complex nucleocapsid protects the genome. The ebola nucleoprotein wraps around the RNA, creating a helical complex. Ebola matrix protein, also known as VP40, shapes the virus and drives the process of budding. Many copies of the protein associate on the membrane, and are thought to make connections both to the membrane and to the nucleocapsid.
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Researchers are looking hard for ways to fight infection by ebola, both with drugs and with vaccines

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.


    The natural host of the virus remains unknown, although there are speculations that the virus is animal born and possibly came from bats. The virus effects humans and similar primates such as monkeys.


    Ebola hemorrhagic fever is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, limited kidney and liver functions, and both internal and external bleeding. Blood leakages, memory loss, and hair loss are all signs that the host has reached the final stages of Ebola.
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Mode of Infection

Viruses propagate by entering a cell and hijacking the genetic replication machinery to create more copies of themselves. Once the cell has outlived its viral propagation function, the newly synthesized viruses exit to infect other cells.

The human immune system can normally recognize infected cells and target them for destruction. Viruses can usually partially protect their host cells from the immune system, but not with Ebola.

The Ebola virus encodes for two glycoproteins, one of which disrupts cell attachment. Experiments suggest that Ebola-infected cells display fewer proteins on the cell surface that are critical for immune recognition; the identity of the repressed proteins depends on the type of infected cell.


The natural reservoir for Ebola is unknown. Bats, monkeys, spiders and ticks have been tested for the virus. Because the virus is as pathogenic in nonhuman primates as it is in humans, it is highly unlikely that monkeys themselves are a reservoir. It is speculated that persistent mammalian infection may help maintain the virus in nature, but that the natural reservoir is more likely to be a long-lived arthropod associated with the monkeys.


The Ebola Virus contains RNA. In order to get into the cell, Ebola must travel through the cell membrane, which is a barrier that protects the cell from its environment. Viruses infiltrate the cell by nutrient-uptake entryways. Ebola virus takes advantage of a process called macropinocytosis, which allows the virus to be “eaten” by a wave-like motion of the cell membrane

Cures and Prevention

Although no FDA approved drug is available to cure Ebola, scientists have been able to id antibodies that correspond to proteins on the shell of the Ebola virus.When administered within 24 hours of infection, all four primates survived.

There is no known treatment for Ebola in humans. Doctors can offer supportive therapy, such as hydration and oxygen. Because the natural reservoir and origin of transmission remains unknown, there are no established methods of primary prevention. Instead, prevention efforts focus on outbreak control in healthcare settings.

Because Ebola is such a contagious virus, the best way to prevent infection is to

  • prevent direst contact to bodily fluids of an infected individual
  • resist contact with objects such as needles that have come into contact with the infected
  • having sexual relations with an infected or previously infected individual
  • avoid infected fruit bats or primates


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