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Ebola: 2018/2019 Outbreak

Ebola: 2018/2019 Outbreak

Ebola Virus Disease  was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa. It is caused by an infection with 1 of 5 known Ebola virus species, and commonly affects people and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas). From 2014-2016, West Africa experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in history: 15,261 confirmed cases and 11,325 deaths. (Total cases of suspected, probable, and confirmed: 28,652.)

 Ebola Outbreak declared 8-1-18: 2018/2019


  • 7/28/19: 2,671 cases; 1,790 deaths

  • May 8, 2018: The World Health Organization (WHO) was notified by the DRC (pop: 78 million) of 32 Ebola cases: 2 confirmed, 18 probable, and 12 suspected cases. 18 deaths.

  • May 21, 2018: DRC and WHO begin vaccinating healthcare workers and community outreach staff with 7,500 doses of experimental vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV (see below). The vaccine must be stored at a temperature of minus 140 to minus 176 degrees °F, so transporting and storing them is a major challenge

  • June 16, 2018: 64 cases: 38 confirmed, 14 probable, 12 suspected. 28 deaths


  • Animal-borne, bats being the most likely source. Bats carrying the virus transmit it to other animals, like apes, monkeys, and humans

  • Spreads to people through direct contact with bodily fluids* of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. This can occur when a person touches infected body fluids or objects that are contaminated with them. The virus gets in through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth, and reproductive organs (penis, vagina, anus)

  • Spreads to people through direct contact with the body fluids of infected fruit bats or primates

*Bodily fluids: blood, urine, saliva, stool, semen, vaginal secretions, sweat, breast milk, vomit, tears

 Symptoms: appear from 2 to 21 days after contact with the virus. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola will die:

  • Fever

  • Severe headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising


  • There must be a combination of symptoms suggestive of Ebola and a possible exposure to Ebola within 21 days before the onset of symptoms

  • Blood testing: It may take up to 3 days after symptoms start for the virus to reach detectable levels in the blood

 Treatment: There is currently no anti-viral medication to treat Ebola

  • Providing fluids and electrolytes through an IV

  • Oxygen therapy

  • Medication to support blood pressure, reduce vomiting and diarrhea, and manage fever and pain

  • Treating other infections, if they occur

Recovery depends on good supportive care and the patient’s immune response. Those who do recover develop antibodies that can last 10 years, possibly longer. It is not known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can later become infected with a different species of Ebola virus.

Vaccine: There is currently no Ebola vaccine licensed by the FDA. An experimental vaccine was found to be highly protective in a trial conducted by WHO and is currently being used during this outbreak.


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