Ebola is extremely infectious but not extremely contagious. It is infectious, because an infinitesimally small amount can cause illness. Laboratory experiments on nonhuman primates suggest that even a single virus may be enough to trigger a fatal infection.
Ebola could be considered moderately contagious because the virus is not transmitted through the air.
Humans can be infected by other humans if they
. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.
While the exact reservoir of Ebola viruses is still unknown, researchers believe the most
: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).
Typically, symptoms appear eight to 10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days.
Unprotected health care workers are susceptible to infection because of their close contact with patients during treatment.
Ebola is not transmissible if someone is asymptomatic and usually not after someone has recovered from it. However, the virus has been found in semen for up to three months, and “possibly” is transmitted from contact with that semen, according to the CDC.
Deadly human Ebola outbreaks have been confirmed in the following countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea,
and Sierra Leone.
There are five subspecies of the Ebola virus: Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV), Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV), Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV) and Reston ebolavirus (RESTV).
for the CDC’s list of known cases and outbreaks.
(Full historical timeline at bottom)
and reports of cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone. “In Guinea, a total of 86 suspected cases, including 59 deaths (case fatality ratio: 68.5%), had been reported as of March 24, 2014. Preliminary results from the Pasteur Institute in Lyon, France suggest Zaire ebolavirus as the causative agent.”
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a
The child died on December 6, 2013, followed by his mother, sister and grandmother over the next month.
Patrick Sawyer, a top government official in the Liberian Ministry of Finance, dies at a local Nigerian hospital. He is the first American to die in what officials are calling the
, an American aid worker in Liberia, tests positive for Ebola. According to Samaritan’s Purse, Writebol is infected while treating Ebola patients in Liberia.
, medical director for Samaritan Purse’s Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Liberia, is infected with the virus. According to Samaritan’s Purse, Brantly is infected while treating Ebola patients.
it is removing its volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
It warns US residents to avoid “nonessential travel” to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.
at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. He is then driven by ambulance to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
CNN reports that
in a last-ditch effort to save Brantly and Writebol, according to a source familiar with details of the treatment. Doctors report “significant improvement.”
August 6, 2014 – Writebol arrives at Emory in Atlanta for treatment.
August 8, 2014 – Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) declare the Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa an international health emergency that requires a coordinated global approach, describing it as the worst outbreak in the four-decade history of tracking the disease.
August 19, 2014 – Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declares a nationwide curfew beginning August 20 and orders two communities to be completely quarantined, with no movement in or out of the areas.
Brantly is discharged from Emory University Hospital. It is also announced that Writebol had been released on August 19. The releases come after Emory staff are confident
September 6, 2014 – The government of Sierra Leone announces plans for a nationwide lockdown from September 19-21, in order to stop the spread of Ebola. The lockdown is being billed as a predominantly social campaign rather than a medical one, in which volunteers will go door-to-door to talk to people.
calls the efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak centered in West Africa “the largest international response in the history of the CDC.” Speaking from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Obama adds that “faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to” the United States to lead international efforts to combat the virus. He says the United States is ready to take on that leadership role.
A nurse’s assistant in Spain becomes the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside Africa in the current outbreak. The woman helped treat two Spanish missionaries, both of whom had contracted Ebola in West Africa, one in Liberia and the other in Sierra Leone. Both died after returning to Spain.
NBC freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo arrives at Nebraska Medical Center for treatment after contracting Ebola in Liberia. On October 21,
October 8, 2014 – Thomas Eric Duncan dies of Ebola in Dallas.
, a Dallas nurse who cared for the now-deceased Ebola patient Duncan,
She is the first person to contract Ebola on American soil.
Under fire in the wake of Ebola cases involving two Dallas nurses,
that stress the importance of more training and supervision, and recommend that no skin be exposed when workers are wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE.
— the first case of the deadly virus in New York City and the fourth diagnosed in the United States.
The National Institutes of Health announces one of the Dallas nurses, Pham, has been declared free of the Ebola virus. Doctors at Emory University Hospital say tests no longer detect the virus in the blood of the other nurse, Vinson.
from a Maryland hospital on October 24, and
from an Atlanta hospital on October 28.
October 24, 2014 – In response to the New York Ebola case, the governors of New York and New Jersey announce that their states were stepping up airport screening beyond federal requirements for travelers from West Africa. The new protocol mandates a quarantine for any individual, including medical personnel, who has had direct contact with individuals infected with Ebola while in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea. The policy allows the states to determine hospitalization or quarantine for up to 21 days for other travelers from affected countries.
November 5, 2014 – Nurse’s aide Romero, believed to be the first person to contract Ebola outside of Africa, is released from the hospital in Madrid, Spain.
November 15, 2014 – Dr. Martin Salia, who became infected with Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone, arrives at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Salia, a native of Sierra Leone, is a legal permanent resident of the United States married to a US citizen.
November 17, 2014 – Dr. Salia dies at Nebraska Medical Center.
at one of the agency’s Atlanta labs. The agency reports a small amount of material which may have contained the live virus had been mistakenly transferred from one lab to another.
American doctor Ian Crozier, who had been declared free of Ebola and released from Emory University Hospital in October 2014,
. He had contacted the disease while working in Sierra Leone. Not at risk of spreading the disease, Dr. Crozier is treated and on his way to Liberia by early April 2015.
after no new cases in 42 days.
, and President Sirleaf also lifts a nationwide curfew imposed in August to help combat the virus.
Liberia’s health ministry says
of Ebola have emerged in the country.
after 42 days pass since the last person confirmed to have the virus was tested negative for a second time.
January 14, 2016 – A statement is released by the UN stating that “For the first time since this devastating outbreak began, all known chains of transmission of Ebola in West Africa have been stopped and no new cases have been reported since the end of November.”
January 15, 2016 – A new case of Ebola in Sierra Leone, in which the patient died, is confirmed by WHO and CDC.
1976 – First recognition of the EBOV disease is in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). The outbreak has 318 reported human cases, leading to 280 deaths. An SUDV outbreak also occurs in Sudan (now South Sudan), which incurs 284 cases and 151 deaths.
1990 – In Texas and Virginia quarantine facilities, four humans develop Ebola antibodies after contact with monkeys imported from the Philippines. None of the humans has symptoms.
1995 – An outbreak in DRC (formerly Zaire) leads to 315 reported cases and at least 250 deaths.
2000-2001 – A Ugandan outbreak (SUDV) results in 425 human cases and 224 deaths.
2001-2002 – An EBOV outbreak occurs on the border of Gabon and Republic of the Congo (ROC), which results in 53 deaths on the Gabon side and at least 43 deaths on the ROC side.
December 2002-April 2003 – An EBOV outbreak in ROC results in 143 reported cases and 128 deaths.
2007 – An EBOV outbreak occurs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 187 of the 264 cases reported result in death. In late 2007, an outbreak in Uganda leads to 37 deaths, with 149 cases reported in total.
The Ebola-Reston virus (RESTV) is
They are workers on a pig farm and slaughterhouse and suffer no symptoms.
August 26, 2014-November 2014 – The Ministry of Health in the DRC notifies WHO of an Ebola outbreak in the country. It is the seventh outbreak in the country since 1976, when the virus was first identified near the Ebola river. The outbreak is not related to the ongoing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. A total of 66 cases are reported, which result in 49 deaths.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, announces
The person has been hospitalized and isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since September 28.
The CDC announces that a
is “highly effective” and could help prevent its spread in the current and future outbreaks.
The DRC’s Ministry of Health declares an Ebola virus outbreak in five health zones in North Kivu province and one health zone in Ituri province.
, according to a report from the nation’s Ministry of Health. On July 17, 2019,
. As of October 5, 2019,
in the August 2018 outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the DRC. WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic says five experimental Ebola therapies have been approved to treat people infected with the Ebola virus. Two are already in use and the other three will follow suit.
Initial results found that 499 patients who received the two effective drugs had a higher chance of survival — the mortality rate for
was 29% and 34% respectively. The two drugs worked even better for patients who were treated early — the mortality rate dropped to 6% for REGN-EB3 and 11% for mAb114, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and one of the researchers leading the trial.
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