Ebola Virus: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Ebola Virus Disease

A Fatal Infectious Disease 

-Dr. Arvind Singh 

Ebola virus disease is a deadly infectious disease in humans. Since the disease often causes bleeding inside and outside the body hence it is also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 50% and 90% of those infected with the virus.

Ebola symptoms and signs
Ebola virus disease was first reported in Nzara (Sudan) and in the Yambuku Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village, situated near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name. The disease frequently outbreaks in tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. From 1976 to 2013 a total of 1,716 cases of Ebola virus disease have been reported by the World Health Organization. The largest ongoing outbreak of the disease was in March 2014 in West Africa affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Till the end of February 2015, this biggest outbreak in the history of Ebola virus disease has 23,860 reported cases resulting in 9,675 deaths.


Ebola virus disease is caused by four different types of RNA viruses. These include Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), Sudan virus (SUDV), Ebola virus (EBOV) and Tai forest virus (TAFV). Ebola virus (EBOV) is the most dangerous of the known Ebola disease-causing viruses and is being responsible for the largest number of outbreaks.


Ebola virus gets introduced into the human population through close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In the continent of Africa, infection occurs through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead. 

Ebola virus then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission. Those who care a sick person or bury someone who has died from the Ebola virus disease often get it. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Another way of Ebola transmission includes touching contaminated needles or surfaces.

Fruit bats of Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.


Ebola virus disease is characterized by sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, lack of appetite, sore throat, chest pain, hiccups, shortness of breath and trouble in swallowing. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

The incubation period (the period between infection and the first appearance of the symptom) is 2 to 21 days. Early symptoms of Ebola virus disease may be similar to those of dengue fever and malaria before the disease progresses to the bleeding phase.


Ebola virus infection can be diagnosed through the following types of tests in the laboratory:

1. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) 
2. Antigen detection tests 
3. Serum neutralization test 
4. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay 
5. Electron microscopy; and 
6. Virus isolation by cell culture


No specific treatment is available against the disease. Severely ill patients need intensive supportive care. Patients suffering from the disease are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration therapy (slightly sweet and salt water to drink) or intravenous fluids.

No licensed vaccine for Ebola virus disease is yet available. Though several vaccines are being tested, none are available for clinical use.

Prevention and Control:

Since the Ebola virus disease is a fatal disease without any specific treatment, hence prevention and control are the only ways to check the spread of the disease. The following measures are needed to be adopted to prevent and control the Ebola virus disease.

1. To check the animals for infections and those found infected should be killed and their dead bodies should be properly disposed of. 

2. To properly cook the meat and to wear protective clothing while handling meat. 

3. To wear protective clothing and to wash hands when around a person with a disease. 

4. To handle the samples of bodily fluids and tissues from infected people with special caution. 

5. To avoid travelling to affected countries. 

6. To improve public sanitation, health care and health education. 

7. To ensure the medical personnel use isolation and barrier technique in the treatment of Ebola patients. 

8. To quarantine the infected and symptomatic people. 

9. To improve communication for epidemiological reporting, coordination of health organizations and public notification. 

10. To restrict international travel.


Conclusively it can be said that Ebola virus disease is a deadly infectious disease caused by four different types of RNA viruses and is transmitted to human beings through infected animals. The disease has no specific treatment hence prevention and control are the only ways to check the spread of the disease.
Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph.D. in Botany with an area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozen published Research Papers in the Journals of National and International repute. His main area of Research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted Research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University-Main Campus, India.

keywords: ebola virus symptoms, ebola virus disease definition, ebola virus disease transmission, ebola virus disease outbreak, ebola virus disease prevention, ebola virus symptoms, ebola virus disease definition, ebola virus disease transmission, ebola virus disease outbreak, ebola virus disease prevention