Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

What you need to know about Ebola

  • Comment

Unclear on the symptoms, risk factors and modes of transmission of Ebola? WHO’s factsheet

What is it?

Key facts:

  • The tropical Ebola virus causes Ebola Virus Disease in humans
  • It was formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic fever in humans
  • Ebola Virus Disease is an acute life threatening viral illness
  • The first documented cases of Ebola were in 1976


Incidence and Transmission

  • The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
  • Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family are considered to be a natural host for the Ebola virus.
  • Outbreaks typically occur primarily in remote villages in West and Central Africa, where consumption of fruit bats is considered a cultural delicacy.
  • The Ebola virus spreads in the human population through close contact with an infected person.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (2014), the Ebola virus has a case fatality rate of up to 90%.


  • A sudden onset of fever
  • Intense lethargy
  • Muscular pains
  • Headaches
  • A sore throat



  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • A maculopapular rash
  •  Impaired kidney and liver function
  • Reduced white blood cell and platelet counts
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Internal and/or external bleeding


Risk Factors

  • Living in close proximity to a tropical rainforest.
  • Handling infected chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
  • Consuming infected fruit bats.
  • Having close direct contact with someone hosting the Ebola virus (through broken skin and mucous membranes).
  • Health care workers are at high risk if treating and caring for those who are infected; particularly if strict infection control measures have not been maintained. Nb. Bodily samples from patients are considered an extreme bio hazardous risk.


Prevention and Treatment

  • No licensed vaccine for EVD is available. Several vaccines are being tested, but none are available for clinical use.
  • Severely ill individuals will require intensive care support and rehydration therapy.
  • Cadaveric incineration rather than shallow grave burials are preferred.
  • So far Ebola cases have been restricted to the African continent. West African states often have porous borders. Restricting travel and tightening border controls are current measures being implemented in the recent outbreak regions.



World Health Organisation (2014) Ebola Virus Fact Sheet 103


  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.