About Ebola and related diseases
Ebola virus disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. The virus spreads in the human population through direct human-to-human contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients who are showing symptoms. It has an incubation period of 2-21 days, and it usually begins with flu-like symptoms, but rapidly progresses to multiple organ failure and blood-clotting abnormalities which manifest as internal and external haemorrhages (bleeding). It is fatal in between 25% and 90% of cases. There is currently no licensed treatment against EVD, and the development of treatments and preventive measures such as vaccines is hampered by challenges including manufacturing-related hurdles, the stability of vaccines during transport and storage, vaccine deployment, and the time taken to diagnose cases of EVD.
Ebola is a member of the filovirus family of viruses. The Ebola epidemic is unprecedented in its scale and geographical distribution. According to reports from the WHO, as of 11 January there have been over 21 000 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD in the current outbreak and over 8 000 deaths, most of them in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
WHO factsheet on Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
WHO statistics on the current outbreak: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/situation-reports/en/