What is Ebola virus disease (EVD)?

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What is Ebola virus disease?

Ebola disease is a hemorrhagic fever caused by a type of RNA virus. Ebola is highly contagious and often fatal. EVD is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person.

It was discovered in 1976 in Africa and is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are four subtypes of this virus of which one type appears to affect only primates. The rest of three can infect and spread from human to human.

In an outbreak, the first infection is usually occurs from an affected animal to humans. The virus infection can spread through contaminated needles, body fluids, vomit, blood, faeces, urine and direct skin contact. The infection becomes highly contagious in its later stages.

The incubation period spans between 2-21 days. There is high mortality rate among the infected. Even the dead body may remain contagious up to three days. Health care personnel attending EVD patients are required to wear protective equipment. There is no standard treatment for this disease.

Definition of EVD
Definition by merriam-webster.com: “the hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus —called also Ebola Fever.”
Definition by thefreedictionary.com: “a severe and often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys and chimpanzees) caused by the EVD virus; characterized by high fever and severe internal bleeding; can be spread from person to person; is largely limited to Africa.”
Definition by yourdictionary.com: “Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a type of RNA virus that causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It is highly contagious and is often fatal in humans and some primates, like monkeys and gorillas.”

What are the symptoms of Ebola disease

The early symptoms include high fever, sore throat, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, muscle pain, joint pain, severe headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, hiccups, difficulty in swallowing and abdominal pain. This phase is followed by bleeding phase.

Ebola virus virion
EVD virion

There is both internal and external bleeding. Blood may be coughed up, vomited or excreted in stool. Bleeding of skin can form petechiae and purpura. The blood loss can lead to death.

What is the treatment for Ebola disease

There is no standard treatment for this infection and early supportive care and hydration can help in survival. In some cases antiviral medicines were found to be helpful. Vaccines for this disease are under development in many research centres.

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Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ebola_virus_virion.jpg
Author: CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith | License: Public domain