Ebola Virus- Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors and Prevention


Ebola virus and Marburg virus are associated with viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers — a disease characterized by extreme bleeding, organ failure and, in many cases, death. These viruses emerge in Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades. In this blog, let’s discuss about the Ebola Virus Symptoms, its Causes, Risk Factor and Prevention.

Ebola virus and Marburg virus live in animal hosts, and humans may infect the viruses from infected animals. After the initial transmission, the viruses may spread from one person to another person through contact with body fluids or infected needles.

No medicines for treating either virus have been approved. Many people infected with Ebola or Marburg virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications. Researchers are coming closer to developing vaccines for these deadly diseases.

Symptoms of Ebola Virus

The time interval from infection with Ebola to the onset of symptoms is 2-21 days, although 8-10 days is most common. Signs and symptoms include:

Signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection with Ebola or Marburg virus. Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills

Weakness Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and when close to death, possible bleeding from the ears, nose and rectum
  • Internal bleeding
  • Hiccups
  • Problem in breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing

Laboratory tests can show low counts of white blood cell and platelets and elevated liver enzymes. As long as the virus is present in the patient’s blood and secretions, they are infectious. In fact, the Ebola virus was isolated from the semen of an infected man 62 days after the onset of illness.

Causes of Ebola Virus

Ebola virus was found in chimpanzees (African monkeys), chimps and other nonhuman primates in Africa. In the Philippines, a milder strain of Ebola has been detected in monkeys and pigs. In Africa, Marburg virus has been found in monkeys, chimps and fruit bats.

Transmission from animals to humans

Experts suspect that both viruses are transmitted to humans through an infected animal’s bodily fluids. Examples include:

•    Blood: The virus can spread to the butcher or eat infected animals. The viruses have also been spread by Scientists who have worked on infected animals as part of their studies.

•    Waste products: Tourists in certain African caves and some underground mine workers have been infected with the Marburg virus, possibly through contact with the faces or urine of infected bats.

Transmission from person to person

Infected people typically don’t become contagious until they develop symptoms. Family members are often infected as they care for sick relatives or prepare the dead for burial.

Medical personnel can be infected if they do not use protective gear, such as surgical masks and gloves.

There is no proof that insect bites can transmit Ebola virus or Marburg virus can be spread via insect bites

Risk factors

For most people, the risk of getting Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Marburg hemorrhagic fever is low. The risk increases if you:

  • Travel to Africa: You are at greater risk if you visiting or working on places where Ebola virus or Marburg virus outbreaks have occurred.
  • Conduct animal research: People are more likely to contract the Ebola or Marburg virus if they conduct animal research with monkeys imported from Africa or the Philippines.
  • Providing medical or personal services: Family members also become infected as they care for sick relatives. Medical personnel may also be infected if they do not use protective gear, such as surgical masks and gloves.
  • Ready people for burial: The bodies of people who died from hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola or Marburg are still contagious. Helping these bodies for burial can increase your risk of developing the disease.


Hemorrhagic fevers from Both Ebola and Marburg lead to death for a high percentage of those are affected. It can cause:

  • Multiple organ failure
  • Severe bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Shock

One reason the viruses are so deadly is that they interfere with the immune system’s ability to mount a defense. But scientists do not understand why some people recover and others do not recover from Ebola and Marburg.

For people who survive, recovery is slow. It may take months to regain weight and strength, and the viruses stay in the body for weeks. People may experience:

  • Loss of hair 
  • Sensory changes
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Inflammation of the testicular


Prevention focused on preventing contact with the viruses. The following precautions will help prevent infection and spread of Ebola and Marburg.

•    Avoid identified epidemic zones: Before travelling to Africa, search the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find out about current epidemics.

•    Wash your hands from time to time: As with many infectious diseases, regular hand-washing is one of the most effective preventive steps. Wash your hands with soap and warm water, or using hand-sanitizer based on alcohol which contains at least 65% alcohol when soap and water are not available.

•    Avoid bush meat: In developed countries, stop purchasing or consuming the wild animals that are sold in local markets including nonhuman primates.

•   Avoid contact with infected people: In particular, caregivers should avoid contact with body fluids and tissues of an infected person, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. During later stages of the disease, people with Ebola or Marburg are most contagious.

•    Follow procedures to control-infection: Wear protective gear, such as boots, masks, gowns and eye covers, if you are a health care worker. Keep infected people isolated from other peoples. Putting needles away or disposes of needles and sterilizes other instruments.

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