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Arch Hellen Med, 32(2), March-April 2015, 167-174


The Εbola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in West Africa: A new threat?

A. Dilintas,1 G. Sevastaki2
1Sitia General Hospital, Sitia, Crete,
2"Venizeleio" General Hospital, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Since February 2014, West Africa has been experiencing the most extensive and deadly outbreak of hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola recorded during recent decades. Although the number of deaths pale in comparison with the burden caused by malnutrition or other infectious disease scourges in Africa (such as AIDS, malaria, cholera and tuberculosis), because of the extremely high lethality and the specific symptoms of the hemorrhagic fever caused by Ebola virus, it has given rise to great interest among the international scientific community. The Ebola and Marburg viruses are the sole members of the Filoviridae family of viruses. They are the largest of the RNA viruses, characterized by a long filamentous form that is unique, and they are among the most virulent pathogens currently known to infect humans. They cause severe outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever, associated with very high mortality, ranging from 50–90%. The natural history and epidemiology of Ebola still has many unknown aspects. Fruit bats are considered to be potential reservoir species of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Humans become infected through contact with infected animals (live and dead). Human-to-human transmission is associated with close contact with the blood, secretions, body fluids or tissues of patients or dead bodies, either directly or through contaminated objects. Breaking the human-to-human transmission cycle remains the cornerstone of infection control during hemorrhagic fever outbreaks. In order to succeed, this requires the effective identification and isolation of cases, along with promotion of the necessary trust between the community and the infection control team.

Key words: Εbola virus, Hemorrhagic fever, Outbreak.

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