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Ebola virus


Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a human illness caused by infection with an Ebola virus. There are six known species of Ebola viruses, four of which cause human illness. The Zaire Ebola virus was the first Ebola virus ever isolated and caused the first reported outbreaks of the EVD in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. The name of the disease comes from this first outbreak where an area that lies on the Ebola River was affected.


Ebola viruses are spread among humans through direct contact of broken skin or mucous membranes with body fluids from infected people who are sick with or have died from the disease, or contact with surfaces and materials that are contaminated with bodily fluids from infected people.


The natural reservoir host of Ebola has not yet been confirmed, but certain species of bats are believed to be the principal animal reservoirs of Ebola viruses. Research has demonstrated that bats can carry the virus without showing clinical signs of illness. Ebola viruses have also been detected in forest dwelling wildlife species such as non-human primate (apes and monkeys), and duikers (i.e. a small wild antelope).