Ebola Virus Disease


Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal, illness originally transmitted to humans from wild animals (such as fruit bats, porcupines and non-human primates) and then transmitted from human to human through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person. It can also be transmitted through surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. The virus was first discovered in 1976 in the Ebola River region of Congo.

Symptoms are similar to those of other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis and this makes diagnosis difficult. The symptoms appear after 2 to 21 days and include fever, fatigue, muscle, pain, headache, and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

There is currently no proven cure for Ebola but there are experimental vaccines that can protect against infection. Early diagnosis and treatment can help a patient recover. Clinical care includes rehydration with fluids and body salts and treatment of specific symptoms such as low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhoea and infections. Hand hygiene and a number of interventions can help control the spread, including surveillance, contact tracing, isolation of confirmed patients, laboratory testing, safe burials, and working with communities to reduce risk factors.

Recent Outbreaks in Africa

  • West Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia & Guinea) – 2014 to 2016. This outbreak was declared over with 28,610 confirmed and probable cases and 11,308 deaths.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – August 2018. This outbreak is still on, affecting 22 health zones mainly in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, with 2787 confirmed cases, 1867 deaths and 810 recovered as of 9 August 2019.
Year Countries Cases Deaths Notes
2019 Uganda 3 2 Those cases came from the neighbouring North Kivu, DRC after attending a funeral of Ebola victim.
2019 DRC 2148 1440 This outbreak is still ongoing and is occurring in Eastern DRC (North Kivu & Ituri provinces) This outbreak unlike the previous ones is occurring in a context of conflict which made the control of Ebola more challenging.
2018 DRC 120 78 This outbreak lasted for less than three months in the Equateur province of DRC.
2017 DRC 54 33  
2014-2016 Liberia 10675 4809  
Guinea 3811 2543  
Sierra Leone 14124 3956  
2014 Nigeria 20 8  
Senegal 1 0  
DRC 66 49  
2012 Uganda 31 21  
DRC 57 29  
2011 Uganda 1 1  
2008 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 32 14