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The Ebola virus is an infectious agent first discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the cause of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), and is one of several viruses that cause viral hemorrhagic fever, a severe and often fatal disease.
Since its discovery, outbreaks of the viral infection have appeared sporadically. Symptoms of EHF can begin ranging 2 – 21 days following infection, but more typically 8 – 10 days after the virus is transmitted.
Five Ebola virus subspecies have been identified, and four of these have been shown to cause disease in humans. These include the Zaire, Sudan, Taï Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston viruses, with only the Reston not causing human symptoms.
The natural reservoir of the Ebola viruses remains unknown. However, deductions from available evidence have led researchers to believe the virus is animal-borne (zoonotic), with bats being the likely reservoir.
Physicians: To report suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in District of Columbia patients, please contact the District of Columbia Department of Health Division of Epidemiology – Disease Surveillance and Investigation as soon as possible at 202-442-8141. Please also complete the Communicable Disease Case Report Form [PDF] and fax it to (202) 442-8060.
Residents: For questions regarding the Ebola virus, please contact the Division of Epidemiology – Disease Surveillance and Investigation at (202) 442-8141.
For more information on the Ebola virus, please follow these links:
- District of Columbia Department of Health letter from the director [PDF]
- District of Columbia Department of Health Q&A [PDF]
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
Updated: August 11, 2014