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EBOLa: the facts

l Ebola, which first emerged in Africa in the 1970s, is a severe, infectious disease with high mortality rates for those who contract it.

l The disease can take up to 21 days to show in patients with symptoms including fever, muscle aches, weakness, headache and sore throat.

Later stages include vomitting, diarrhoea, rash and failure of multiple organs.

l Some patients suffer heavy internal and external bleeding.

Ebola is caused by direct exposure to the blood or bodily fluids of a dead or living infected person or animal.

l This exposure could occur through injury from needles used to treat an ebola patient or direct exposure through broken skin or mucous membranes such as the mouth or eyelids.

l It can also be spread through unprotected sex with an infected person, even up to seven weeks after they have recovered.

l The virus isn't airborne but it can survive in liquid

or dried material for a number of days.

Infection can be caused through contact with an Ebola patient's bodily fluids on soiled clothing or bed linen.

l In affected countries Ebola is not transmitted through casual contact in public places with people that do not appear to be sick.

l Handling money, groceries and swimming in swimming pools is also safe.

l Ebola outbreaks over the years have seen fatality rates of up to 90pc, 
according to the World Health 

l The current outbreak in West African countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, has been described as the worst ever, with more than 1,350 deaths so far.