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Ebola in pregnancy

02 November 2014
8 min read
Volume 22 · Issue 11

Abstract

Ebola virus disease, previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is an often fatal disease caused by a virus of the Filoviridae family. The initial signs and symptoms of the disease are non-specific, which may progress to a severe haemorrhagic illness. Currently there are no guidelines on the management of pregnant women who have contracted Ebola virus. This article offers some insight into the complexity of the disease and management of pregnant women who have contracted the virus.

On 8 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General declared the recent outbreak of Ebola virus in Africa, ‘a public health emergency of international concern’ (Kennedy, 2014). Currently there are no guidelines on the management of pregnant women who have contracted Ebola; therefore, this article offers some insight into the complexity of the disease and management of pregnant women who have contracted Ebola virus.

The Ebola virus is a single-stranded, unsegmented, enveloped RNA virus with a characteristic filamentous structure (Figure 1) belonging to a family called Filoviridae. To date, two members of this virus family have been identified; the Marburg virus and the Ebola virus, and five different species of the Ebola virus have been isolated (Taï Forest, Sudan, Zaire, Reston and Bundibugyo) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2014). Filoviruses are transmitted to humans from animals—both the Ebola and Marburg virus have been isolated in fruit bats (Albarino et al 2013). However, once a human is infected, the virus can spread from person–to-person.

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