First recognized in 1976, Ebola fever is caused by infection with the Ebola virus. Outbreaks have occurred in several African countries. Symptoms often appear abruptly and can include fever, sore throat, weakness, and bleeding. There is no cure; treatment typically involves providing supportive care to manage symptoms while the body fights the infection.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (also called Ebola fever or just Ebola) is a highly contagious illness that is typically fatal in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It was first recognized in 1976, and has appeared sporadically since then.
Ebola fever outbreaks typically appear sporadically. Confirmed cases of infections have been reported in:
- The Ivory Coast
- The Republic of the Congo
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There has never been a reported case of Ebola fever in humans in the United States. Ebola-Reston virus caused severe illness and death in monkeys imported to research facilities in the United States and Italy from the Philippines; during these outbreaks, several research workers became infected with the virus, but did not become ill.
The cause of Ebola fever is an infection with the Ebola virus (see Ebola Pictures). The virus was first recognized in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, and was named after one of the rivers there.
Ebola is one of two members of a family of RNA viruses called Filoviridae. There are four identified subtypes of Ebola virus. Three of the four have caused disease in humans:
- Ebola-Ivory Coast.
The fourth subtype, Ebola-Reston, has not caused disease in humans, but has in nonhuman primates.
(Click Causes of Ebola for more information.)