21 Aug /14


The name of the Ebola virus which is making the headlines today originates from the Ebola River in the Congo. The first time the disease appeared was in August 1976. Patient zero was a schoolteacher who had been touring along the Ebola River just days before he was identified with what become known as the Ebola virus. This was the start of a virus which has an average fatality rate of 83%.

Outbreaks of ebola

Up to 2013, the World Health Organization recorded a total of approximately 2,000 Ebola cases in 24 outbreaks, all of them in Africa. Original scientific papers used various different names for the disease including haemorrhagic fever and Marburg-like virus. The New York Times on 1 December 1976 was an early use in a national use. It described the disease as a green monkey fever “which will be known as the Ebola Virus”. The word came into medical use almost immediately after a series of articles in The Lancet in March 1977.

Read about ebola symptoms

If you are up to it, read more about the Ebola virus in the non-fiction thriller The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. But be warned. The blurb on the book says that it is “one of the most horrifying things I’ve read in my whole life”. And it was written by Stephen King who is not easily frightened! Not surprising for a description of a disease which extremely unpleasant, almost certainly fatal and for which there is no vaccine or licenced treatment.