Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 1936–1939 | Cite as

Understanding organ dysfunction in Ebola virus disease

  • Tom E. Fletcher
  • Robert A. Fowler
  • Nicholas J. BeechingEmail author
Understanding the Disease

Ebola viruses are single-stranded RNA filoviruses which are maintained in nature in fruit bats [1]. The genus includes five strains that are clinically distinguished by their usual geographic location and severity of disease in humans. The Reston strain does not appear to cause human disease, and asymptomatic human infections can also occur with other strains. The current West African outbreak is caused by the Zaire strain,which is typically associated with mortality rates of 50–90 % [2, 3]. This short review summarises knowledge about the pathogenesis of organ dysfunction in Ebola virus disease (EVD).

Clinical disease commences after an incubation period ranging from 2 to 21 days, and is initially non-specific, with fever, headache, lethargy and myalgia. This progresses to a gastrointestinal stage characterised by diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Hypovolemia, systemic hypoperfusion and shock are the most obvious clinical syndromes in inadequately resuscitated patients....


Disseminate Intravascular Coagulation Capillary Leak Syndrome Poor Prognostic Sign Inadequate Oral Intake Haemorrhagic Manifestation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Drs Fletcher and Fowler both provide assistance to Ebola Treatment Centres in West Africa, supported by the World Health Organization. Dr Fletcher receives support from the Wellcome Trust and from the Ministry of Defence. Dr Fowler is a clinician scientist of the Heart and Stroke Foundation (Ontario, Canada). Dr Beeching is partially supported by a National Institute of Health Research grant to the Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, a collaboration between the University of Liverpool, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health England. Views expressed are those of the authors.

Conflicts of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom E. Fletcher
    • 1
  • Robert A. Fowler
    • 2
  • Nicholas J. Beeching
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.WellcomeTraining Fellow and LecturerLiverpool School of Tropical MedicineLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Associate Professor of Medicine, Sunnybrook HospitalUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Senior Lecturer in Infectious DiseasesLiverpool School of Tropical MedicineLiverpoolUK

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