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Ebola Virus Disease

Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.

Introduction
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans. With a case fatality rate of up to 90%, it is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. Though it is found mostly in Africa, it can transfer to all parts of the world. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

Hosts
In Africa, fruit bats are believed to be the natural hosts of Ebola virus. The virus is transmitted from wildlife to people through contact with infected fruit bats, or through intermediate hosts, such as monkeys, or apes that have themselves become infected through contact with bat saliva or faeces.

Symptoms
EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.

Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span 2-21 days.

Treatment
No licensed vaccine for EVD is available. Several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use.
Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.

2014 Outbreak
On 8 August, it formally designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.
As of 20 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a total of 2,615 suspected cases and 1,427 deaths (1,528 cases and 844 deaths being laboratory confirmed).

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