By: Megan Hanes


It is a rare disease caused by the Ebola virus that results in nonspecific symptoms early in the disease and often causes internal and external hemorrhage bleeding as the disease progresses. It is considered one of the most lethal viral infections.


Diagnosing it in a person is difficult because the early symptoms, such as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola infection and often are seen in patients with more common diseases. Samples from the patient can be collected and tested to confirm infection. Ebola virus is detected in blood only after onset of symptoms. It may take up to three days after symptoms start for the virus to reach detectable levels.

How is it transmitted?

Scientists believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate. When an infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread to others through direct contact with body fluids or needles of an infected person.

Relative frequency of the disease

This disease is very rare and is not at a growing frequency.

Disease Course

After entering the body, it kills cells making some of them explode. It wrecks the immune system, causes heavy bleeding inside the body, and then damages almost every organ.

Possible Complications

Some complications may be multiple organ failure, severe bleeding, jaundice, seizures, coma, and shock. A high percentage of people infected die but for people who survive, recovery is slow. It may take months to regain weight and strength, and the virus remains in the body for weeks.

Target Audience

It mainly hit people in Africa because that is where the outbreak was. It was spread to other places by contact from person to person but it doesn't specifically target certain people.


No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine is available for this disease. Symptoms of Ebola and complications are treated as they appear. Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.