Ebola virus

Ebola virus (ēbō´lə), a member of a family (Filovirus) of viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers. The virus, named for the region in Congo (Kinshasa) where it was first identified in 1976, emerged from the rain forest, where it survives in as yet unconfirmed hosts, possibly several species of fruit bats; experimental evidence also suggests that wild and domestic swine may be a reservoir of the disease. The virus can be fatal to chimpanzees and gorillas as well as humans.

Several strains of the virus found in Africa cause hemorrhagic fever; one found in the W Pacific does not. Once a person is infected with the virus, the disease has an incubation period of 2–21 days; however, some infected persons are asymptomatic. Initial symptoms are sudden malaise, headache, and muscle pain, progressing to high fever, vomiting, severe hemorrhaging (internally and out of the eyes and mouth) and in 50%–90% of patients, death, usually within days. The likelihood of death is governed by the virulence of the particular Ebola strain involved. Ebola virus is transmitted in body fluids and secretions; it may possibly also be transmitted through the air by aerosol droplets. There is no vaccine and no cure.

Outbreaks of Ebola virus in humans have typically occurred in tropical rainforest regions in Central and West Africa. Among the countries affected have been Congo-Kinshasa (then Zaïre) and Sudan (in a region now in South Sudan), where outbreaks occurred in 1976 and 1979; since then other outbreaks have occurred in Gabon, Uganda, and both Congos. The largest and deadliest outbreak began in 2014 in Guinea and spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone; more than 600 people had died by mid-2014. Outbreaks have been exacerbated by underequipped hospitals that reused syringes and lacked proper protective clothing for personnel. In 1989 a similar virus was found in monkeys imported to the United States.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Ebola: Selected full-text books and articles

Questions and Answers concerning Ebola
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 1, 2014
Viruses, Plagues, and History
Michael B. A. Oldstone.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Ebola"
Ebola: Why the Death and Suffering?
Abraham, Curtis.
New African, No. 542, August-September 2014
Experimental Therapies Target Ebola: Candidate Drugs and Vaccines Could Help End Epidemic
Seppa, Nathan.
Science News, Vol. 186, No. 6, September 20, 2014
Time to Put Ebola in Context: Viruses That Cause Haemorrhagic Fevers Have Been Popularized by the Media as Fierce Predators That Threaten to Devastate Global Populations. Professor Melissa Leach Says There Is Much to Learn from Combining Local and Scientific Knowledge in Dealing with These Deadly Pathogens
Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 88, No. 7, July 2010
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Ebola Fears Come Home Anxiety Normal, Outbreak Unlikely in U.S., Experts Say Ebola: Media Attention Will Be High
Cass, Connie.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 6, 2014
Some Good News about Ebola: It Won't Spread as Fast as Other Epidemics
Chowell-Puente, Gerardo.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 2, 2014
Agents of Bioterrorism: Pathogens and Their Weaponization
Geoffrey Zubay.
Columbia University Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Ebola Viruses"
Is the "Poor Man's Atomic Bomb" about to Explode?
USA TODAY, Vol. 143, No. 2832, September 2014
DNA Clarifies Ebola Outbreak's Origin: West Africa's Epidemic Stems from Just One Infected Person
Saey, Tina Hesman.
Science News, Vol. 186, No. 6, September 20, 2014
The U.S. Is Sitting on Promising Ebola Vaccines; the Disease Is Spreading Faster and Farther, but Lack of Funds and Short Attention Spans Keep a Cure at Bay
Schlanger, Zoe; Wolfson, Elijah.
Newsweek, Vol. 163, No. 6, August 15, 2014
Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America; Tons of African Bushmeat Are Smuggled into the U.S., Some of It Festering with a Deadly Virus
Flynn, Gerard; Scutti, Susan.
Newsweek, Vol. 163, No. 8, August 29, 2014
Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War, and Death
Susan D. Moeller.
Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "The Doomsday Disease: Ebola, Zaire, May 1995" begins on p. 80
Risk and Technological Culture: Towards a Sociology of Virulence
Joost Van Loon.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Emergent Pathogen Virulence: Understanding Epidemics in Apocalypse Culture"
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