Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever

Organism Virus of the Filoviridae group of organisms.

Clinical features Illness presents with sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pains, sore throat and profound weakness. This progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and signs of internal and external bleeding, generally with the occurrence of liver and kidney damage. Mortality is 50-90%.

Diagnosis is by ELISA for specific IgG and IgM antibody or by PCR, but should only be carried out in laboratories with maximum facilities for protecting staff.

Transmission is by person-to-person contact via blood, secretions, semen or tissues of an infected person. Infected blood, especially via syringes, causes the most serious infections, while transmission has occurred via semen up to 7 weeks after clinical recovery.

Infection has also occurred through handling ill or dead chimpanzees, but it is thought that like humans, they are susceptible to the infection rather than being a reservoir.

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