Fever,
vomiting and severe diarrhoea are among the symptoms of the highly infectious
and extremely lethal Ebola virus, which has claimed thousands of lives in a
series of outbreaks in Africa since 1976.

With
the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) latest outbreak spreading to Uganda,
these are some facts about the virus.

Super lethal

The
average fatality rate from Ebola is around 50percent, varying from 25 to 90
percent, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

The
virus is highly contagious, making it difficult to contain especially in urban
environments.

It
is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads among humans though
close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected
person.

Ebola
is believed to reside in bats, which do not themselves fall ill but can pass it
on.

Chimpanzees,
gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines can also become infected, and
humans who kill and eat these animals can catch the virus through them.

Fever, bleeding

People
who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after
an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

High
fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat are
often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver
failure, internal and external bleeding.

After-effects
have often been observed in survivors, including arthritis, problems with
vision, eye inflammation and hearing difficulties.

Treatment and vaccine

At
present there is no licenced drug to prevent or treat Ebola although a range of
experimental drugs are in development.

After
the DRC’s 10th outbreak started in August, health authorities there began
issuing the rVSV-Zebov vaccine on a large scale for the first time.

Developed
by Merck laboratories, the vaccine is unlicensed but has been widely shown to
be safe and effective, and the WHO has called for its deployment to be
expanded.



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