Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever


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Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever

(e?bo'la) [ Ebola, Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)] See: fever

Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever

An often fatal viral disease that appears in sporadic outbreaks in Africa. The clinical presentation of widespread bleeding into many organs and fever is similar to that seen in Lassa, Marburg, and Congo-Crimean viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Etiology

The disease is caused by one of three species of Ebola virus, a Filoviridae virus distinguished by long threadlike strands of RNA. The animal host has not been identified, which limits study of the disease. In each outbreak, the first human infection is believed to be caused by a bite from an infected animal. Subsequent cases are the result of contact with blood or body secretions from an infected person or the reuse of contaminated needles and syringes.

Patient care

The use of standard barrier precautions prevents transmission, with the addition of leg and shoe covers if large amounts of blood, vomit, or diarrhea are present; negative-pressure isolation rooms are used if available. The spread of Ebola virus between humans by airborne droplets has not been documented, but face masks are recommended if the patient has respiratory symptoms. All equipment must be sterilized before reuse.

Symptoms

The incubation period of 2–3 weeks is followed by sudden onset of high fever, myalgia, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and abdominal pain; a rash, sore throat, and conjunctivitis may be present. Within 7 days, shock develops, usually associated with hemorrhage; more than 50% of patients die. The patient is infectious after fever appears.

See also: fever