The Ebola virus: profile of a feared killer

PARIS – The highly contagious Ebola virus has claimed more than 15,000 lives since it was first discovered in Central Africa in 1976.

More than three-quarters of those deaths occurred during a brutal outbreak in West Africa that began in Guinea a decade ago and subsequently spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Friday marks the tenth anniversary of the first Ebola cases being reported in Sierra Leone on May 24, 2014. Here is a brief summary of one of the world's deadliest diseases:


Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever that was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Six of the virus species are known to cause disease in humans: Zaire, Sudan, Bundibugyo, Reston, Tai Forest and Bombali.

The first three have caused serious outbreaks in Africa, but the vast majority of cases in the last decade have been in Zaire.


The natural reservoir for the virus is believed to be a species of fruit bat that does not become ill itself but can transmit the disease to primates, including humans. People can become exposed to the virus if they kill or dismember infected bats to eat them.