This Ebola is a virus that causes problems with how your blood clots. It is known as a hemorrhagic fever virus, because the clotting problems lead to internal bleeding, as blood leaks from small blood vessels in your body. The virus also causes inflammation and tissue damage. Five different species of the virus have been found.
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in Guinea in December 2013. From there, it quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases also appeared in Senegal and Nigeria, and there was another outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today, Liberia is at the center of the epidemic, with more than 3,000 cases of infection. About half of them have been fatal.
As President Barack Obama announced that he would be sending American military personnel to West Africa to help combat the epidemic, VICE News traveled to Monrovia to spend time with those on the front lines of the outbreak.
The Fight Against Ebola documentary
Key Facts About Ebola
The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization:
- Ebola is one of numerous hemorrhagic fever viruses. Case fatality rates have varied from 25 to 90 percent in past outbreaks. The average case fatality rate is around 50 percent.
- Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Africa.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- The natural reservoir, or host, remains unknown. However, researchers consider the fruit bat as the most likely natural reservoir.
- When an infection does occur in humans, it can be transmitted to others through:
- Direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person
- Exposure to objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions
- Severely ill patients require intensive, supportive care. No licensed treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
Directed by: Dany Gold