What Causes Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.

The causative viruses include the following:

  • Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus)
  • Sudan virus (species Sudan ebolavirus)
  • Taï Forest virus (species Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus)
  • Bundibugyo virus

The exact origin of Ebola virus is not yet fully understood, but scientists believe that it is a zoonotic virus, which means that it originates in animals and is transmitted to humans.

The natural reservoir of Ebola virus is thought to be fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family. Humans can become infected with the virus when they come into contact with infected animals, such as bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, or monkeys, through close contact with their blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids.

Once a human is infected, the virus can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces or materials, such as bedding, clothing, or medical equipment.

Ebola virus is highly infectious, and the disease can spread rapidly in communities with inadequate health infrastructure, making it a significant public health threat. The virus can cause severe illness and even death, with symptoms including fever, muscle pain, headache, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding.