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Ebola virus

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Electron microscope picture of the Ebola virus
Ebola virus disease
Classification and external resources

1976 photograph of two nurses standing in front of Mayinga N., a person with Ebola virus disease; she died only a few days later.
ICD-10 A98.4
ICD-9 065.8
DiseasesDB 18043
MedlinePlus 001339
eMedicine med/626
MeSH D019142

Ebola virus is a very dangerous virus. It causes a hemorrhagic fever called Ebola virus disease. "Hemorrhagic" means that the victim will bleed a lot, inside and outside their body. Out of every 10 people who get Ebola, on average five to nine die. There are four kinds of Ebola virus that can cause the disease. The virus was first found in Sudan. It is found in Africa, with very few cases in Europe and the United States.[1]

How people get Ebola

The Ebola virus that makes people sick lives in the blood and other liquids and wet things in some kinds of animals without killing them. Scientists think the animals it lives in are mainly some kinds of monkeys or fruit bats. When people touch animals that have the virus, or wet things that came out of those animals, or liquids like water that those animals touched, they can get sick.[2]

Ebola cannot be caught through the air, or by being near sick people.[3] The virus can only go from liquids into people's bodies. This means Ebola can be caught by touching a sick person's blood, saliva, mucus, semen, diarrhea, vomit, or other fluids that come out of a sick person's body. It can also be caught by touching water that has been touched by sick people.[2]

If a person does not die from the disease, he can still give other people the infection by having sex for nearly another two months after they stop being sick. This is because the virus can still be in the man's semen a long time.


When people get Ebola the first symptoms look like some other diseases. People get a fever and feel very tired. Their head, stomach, joints, and throat might hurt. Sometimes, people think they have other diseases like malaria or typhoid fever.

Later, people get much sicker. They bleed both inside and outside their bodies. They have blood in their diarrhea and vomit. They bleed from their noses, mouths, and genitals/sex organs. They get shock: low blood pressure, fast pulse (heart rate), and low blood circulation to the body. Their organs might stop working, which can lead to impaired kidneys or liver. Ebola also causes stiffness throughout the body which makes it hard for sick people to move.

Five to nine out of every ten people who get sick with Ebola die.


There is no cure for Ebola, but if people get care quickly from doctors and nurses at a hospital, more of them live. People with Ebola need a lot of fluids to replace fluids lost from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. The most important care is giving them water with a very small amount of salt and sugar in it. This is called oral rehydration. It helps to replace their fluids and blood. It is also important to give medicines in case they get bad blood pressure and blood circulation.

Stopping Ebola

Scientists have not yet found a vaccine for Ebola, but efforts are underway.