The Ebola virus spreads through close contact with blood or bodily fluids, even those of corpses, produces a deadly fever, and kills by causing uncontrollable bleeding. There is no cure for it, no antidote and no vaccine.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever first appeared in Zaire and the Sudan in 1976. It has reappeared epidemically 10 times since then. A recent search for the reservoir of Ebola virus near Kikwit, Republic of the Congo, resulted in the identification of at least seven taxa of rodents and insectivores that are preliminarily considered new species.
The disease appears after woodsmen or hunters enter virgin rainforest, and the land is then cleared. Fewer than 1000 cases have ever been identified. In 1976, in Zaire, 318 people were infected, of whom 88% died. A second outbreak of 284 cases with 55 % mortality occurred later than year in Sudan. In 1995-96 it killed 75% of the 316 people infected in an outbreak in Zaire. The final toll was 232 humans, 2200 small animals and 15,000 insects. The animals and insects were gassed to try to find the reservoir for the virus, whereas the humans died of the virus.