Ebola haemorrhagic fever

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a severe acute viral illness of tropical Africa. It can also occur in travellers who have visited this region. The reservoir is unknown, and it is transmitted from person to person, including air-borne nosocomial hospital spread.

Of historical interest, it (as well as other conditions) has been postulated as the cause of the plague of Athens in 430 BC.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) and is thus related to a number of other types of similar infections, due to Lassa (q.v.), Marburg and Crimean—Congo viruses. Extensive endothelial cell damage is the common pathogenetic mechanism of all the viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Following an incubation period of 6—9 days, there is an acute onset of fever, headache, myalgia, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rash, bleeding and shock. Diagnosis is made by culture.

There is no specific therapy.

The mortality has been reported to have ranged between 53-88%.

Special precautionary guidelines have been published, including specific infection control measures.


Bennet D, Brown D 1995 Ebola virus. Br Med J 310: 1344.

Bouree P, Bergman J-F 1983 Ebola virus infection in man. Am J Trop Med Hyg 32: 1465.

Howard CR 1984 Viral hemorrhagic fevers: properties and prospects for treatment and prevention. Antiviral Res 4: 169.

Sanchez A, Ksiazek TG, Rollin PE et al 1995 Reemergence of Ebola virus in Africa. Emerg Infect Dis 1: 3.

Suresh V 1997 The enigmatic haemorrhagic fevers. J R Soc Med 90: 622.

Echinacea (see Angioedema)

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