How to recognize Ebola symptoms

  • The 2014 Ebola Outbreak Involves the Ebola-Zaire Strain. Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever is a type of Filoviridae, an RNA virus, first discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Africa. There are four strains of the severe, often-fatal disease – Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Ivory Coast, and Ebola-Reston.

  • Early symptoms are nonspecific and include fever, chills, myalgias, and malaise. On average acute symptoms occur four to 10 days after exposure, but may occur in as few as 2 or as many as 21 days after exposure.

  • After 5 days, symptoms progress to involve the gastrointestinal system and may include severe watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Chest pain, shortness of breath, and headache or confusion may also occur at this stage. Some patients develop a diffuse erythematous maculopapular rash that can desquamate, similar to the epidermal toxic necrolysis shown in this photo.

  • In late stages, seizures may occur and cerebral edema has been reported. Bleeding occurs in about 15% of patients in the form of petechiae, ecchymosis (pictured), bruising, mucosal hemorrhage, and oozing from venipuncture sites. Hiccups have been reported.

  • In fatal cases, patients typically die from complications such as multi-organ failure and septic shock, on average about 6 to 16 days after symptom onset.

  • Those who recover typically show signs of improvement around days 6 to 11, but may experience prolonged convalescence.

  • To date, WHO estimates in the 2014 outbreak put mortality at about 55% in West Africa overall, and as high as 75% in Guinea.

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Updated 10/6/14. Information courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compiled by Brianne Aiken, Hannah Dellabella, and Nicole Blazek.

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