What causes Ebola? A comprehensive guide

The Ebola virus is a serious threat to public health, and it is important to understand what causes it.

What causes Ebola? A comprehensive guide
The Ebola virus infecting cellular machinery, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Ebola is a virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, which is a severe illness that can lead to bleeding from the eyes, ears, and nose. The Ebola virus is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person, or through contact with objects that have been contaminated with the virus.

The Ebola virus is a serious threat to public health, and it is important to understand what causes it. That's because understanding the cause can help to develop treatments and prevent the spread of the virus.

The Ebola virus pathogen

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the four Ebola viruses.

EBOV, or Zaire Ebola virus, is the most dangerous of the four viruses and is responsible for the majority of EVD outbreaks.

The other three viruses are Bundibugyo virus, Sudan virus, and Taï Forest virus. All four viruses are closely related to marburgviruses.

There is no specific treatment for EVD, and the disease can be fatal. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical for the best chance of survival.

How does Ebola infect a cell?

The Ebola virus is a filamentous virus that is 80 nanometers in width and can be up to 14,000 nanometers in length. The virus has a single-stranded RNA genome that contains seven genes.

The virus is believed to attach to specific cell-surface receptors, which allows it to fuse with cellular membranes. The virus then travels to acidic endosomes and lysosomes where the viral envelope glycoprotein GP is cleaved. This processing allows the virus to bind to cellular proteins and fuse with internal cellular membranes. Ebola is a lytic virus, which means it causes cells to rupture.

The viral RNA polymerase then uncoats the nucleocapsid and transcribes the genes into positive-strand mRNAs. The Ebolavirus structural glycoprotein is responsible for the virus' ability to bind to and infect targeted cells. Newly synthesized structural proteins and genomes self-assemble and accumulate near the inside of the cell membrane.

Virions bud off from the cell, gaining their envelopes from the cellular membrane from which they bud. The mature progeny particles then infect other cells to repeat the cycle.

Why does Ebola not spread in Europe and the US?

One reason why Ebola has not spread in Europe and the US is the high level of healthcare infrastructure and access to medical care in these regions. In Africa, where many Ebola outbreaks have occurred, healthcare infrastructure is often lacking, making it difficult for people to access the medical care they need to survive the disease. In contrast, Europe and the US have well-established healthcare systems that are capable of providing prompt and effective medical treatment to those who are infected with Ebola.

Another reason why Ebola has not spread in Europe and the US is the rapid response of public health officials to contain outbreaks. In Africa, where Ebola outbreaks are more common, public health officials may be slower to respond to an outbreak due to a variety of factors, such as limited resources and lack of experience dealing with the disease. In contrast, public health officials in Europe and the US are trained and prepared to respond quickly to an Ebola outbreak, which helps to prevent the disease from spreading.

Additionally, the close monitoring of people who have been exposed to Ebola and the implementation of quarantine measures have also played a role in preventing the spread of the disease in Europe and the US. In Africa, where outbreaks are more common, people may not always be aware of the risks of contracting Ebola or may not have access to quarantine facilities. In contrast, in Europe and the US, people who have been exposed to Ebola are closely monitored and may be quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease.

What are the effects of Ebola on the body?

Early symptoms of EVD include fever, muscle pain, and headaches, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Death typically occurs 6-16 days after symptoms appear. There is no specific treatment for Ebola at this time; however early diagnosis and supportive care can improve the chances of survival

Early Symptoms

The early symptoms of Ebola may include fever, headache, muscle pain, and chills. These symptoms can be similar to those of other illnesses such as the flu, making it difficult to initially diagnose the virus. Other early symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Advanced Symptoms

As the virus progresses, it can lead to more severe symptoms such as rash, red eyes, hiccups, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, Ebola can also cause bleeding within and outside of the body, including the eyes, ears, and nose. These advanced symptoms may include:


Ebola can lead to several complications that can be life-threatening, such as organ failure, septic shock, and multi-organ dysfunction syndrome. In severe cases, the virus can also cause severe bleeding and shock, leading to death.

Ebola-Cases.com tracks global data on the 2022 Ebola virus disease outbreak. You can refer to the United States page to track the number of Ebola cases in the United States in 2022. We will also aggregate and share any information about the number of Ebola cases and deaths on our Twitter account, so be sure to follow it for up-to-date information on the 2022 Ebola outbreak.