The Ebola virus is a member of the family filoviridae and was first discovered in Zaire, Africa in 1976 (named after a river in the Congo). The origin is unknown but is thought to be a zoonotic infection (possibly bats and monkeys). No definite host has been established. It is a highly infectious and contagious disease and is spread through bodily fluids, i. e. blood, semen, vomit, saliva, etc. Signs and symptoms are: fever, impaired liver and kidney function, vomiting, diarrhea, myalgia, and possible internal and external bleeding.
The incubation period is from 2 days to 3 weeks and death can occur in 1 week. Initially the disease is difficult to diagnose due to the symptoms being non-specific. Although it is a highly infectious disease, it is not very pervasive in places like the United States where strict sanitation rules are enforced and universal precautions are taken (nosocomial infections have occurred in underdeveloped countries from needle sticks and other infected specimens).
The Ebola virus has no known cure, vaccination, or specific treatment (fluid and electrolyte replenishment is critical but does not guarantee survival of the infected individual). As a result of this, it has been termed the deadliest virus known to mankind. It has an extremely high mortality rate (upwards of 90%). Prevention is the best way to protect yourself against an Ebola virus infection. Since the disease has not yet developed an easy degree of transmissibility via aerosols, containment and isolation of someone who has this disease, as well as using proper sterilization techniques can greatly reduce the risk of becoming infected with this deadly virus. G. Pierce 2.