(Healio) Ebola virus, or EBOV, is one of five known viruses in the genus Ebolavirus. It is a very small single-stranded negative-sense RNA virus. It mutates rapidly, even while infecting a single host, making production of an effective vaccine a challenge. The vector is the bat, usually a fruit bat. The susceptible species are large mammals including pigs, apes and us humans. It is spread by direct contact with body fluids including feces, blood, vomit, saliva, urine and semen, and apparently aqueous and vitreous fluid can also harbor the virus. The virus causes a severe hemorrhagic fever with hematemesis, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, dehydration and death in 83% of cases in 3 to 4 days.
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In the 2013-2015 epidemic in Western Africa, primarily centered in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, approximately 28,256 individuals were infected, with an 80%-plus mortality rate. Tragically, many of them were health care workers in an area already severely short on trained health care providers. Many doctors and nurses became infected while caring for the sick and rapidly died. The WHO recommends "Level 4 Biosafety" when exposed to an infected individual, which is the highest level of protection. Even in the United States, only a few designated centers are prepared to deal with this deadly disease, and the few patients diagnosed after traveling to the U.S. were sent to these special centers for treatment.
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