Ebola hemorrhagic fever, also known as Ebola virus disease (EVD), is one of the deadliest viruses known to mankind. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of infected animals or people.
Transmission via contaminated medical equipment or other objects is also possible.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease has a high death rate up to 90%. No cure or vaccine for Ebola has been found, though several vaccines are currently being tested.
The virus breaks out primarily in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests. It is transmitted to people from wild animals; fruit bats and monkeys are thought to be the natural hosts of the virus.
The virus was first identified in 1976, when there were two simultaneous outbreaks in Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease took its name from the Ebola River, the location site of one of the infected northern Congo villages. According to WHO, between 1976 and 2012, Congo has seen the largest number of outbreaks - 10 – and has sustained the highest case fatality rate – average of 80%.
Sudan, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda were also infected with the deadly virus more than once.
The 2014 outbreak, which has already turned out to be the largest in history and the first in West Africa, evolved in southern Guinea in March and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus has infected 1,201 people and killed 672. Most of the deaths were in Guinea, while Sierra Leone sustains the highest rate of infected.
96 new cases and 7 more deaths were reported in Liberia and Sierra Leone within two days, from July 21 to July 23, 2014.
WHO warns that during an outburst, the following groups of people are at higher risk of infection: "family members or others in close contact with infected people; health workers; mourners who have direct contact with the bodies of the deceased as part of burial ceremonies; and hunters in the rain forest who come into contact with dead animals found lying in the forest."
The Samaritan's Purse international non-governmental organization fighting against Ebola virus in West African countries has already reported two of its US workers got infected with the virus.
Russia has warned its citizens against planning trips to Western Africa because of Ebola virus threat. In case a person develops Ebola symptoms while being in West African countries or upon return to Russia, he should seek the medical assistance as soon as possible, said Russia’s consumer protection agency.
According to Galina Kuklina, an attaché at the Russia’s Embassy in Ghana, none of some 80 Russian citizens residing in Liberia have contracted the disease.