Summary

  • A severe, often fatal, zoonotic infection caused by a virus of the Filoviridae family (genus Ebolavirus).
  • Human-to-human transmission occurs via contact with body fluids from infected patients. The incubation period after infection is 1 to 21 days (typically 5-12 days), and patients are not considered infectious until they develop symptoms.
  • Initial stages of infection are nonspecific, which makes the differential diagnosis broad; therefore, clinical suspicion of the infection with prompt isolation is very important in the context of a history of exposure.
  • Management is centered around supportive care and infection control. The lack of any specific antiviral treatment or approved vaccine makes treatment difficult; however, several potential therapeutic agents are undergoing accelerated development, and clinical studies are either planned or ongoing.
  • Case fatality rates range from 20% to 90%. Survivors often have prolonged ill health with significant disability.
  • The risk of sexual transmission from male survivors may persist for at least 9 months.
  • As there is a high likelihood of infected people traveling, all countries should have tested and practiced protocols ready for screening and managing patients.

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