The largest outbreak of Ebola virus disease in history is currently ongoing in several West African countries. At the end of May 2015, a total of 27,181 cases with 11,162 deaths (average mortality rate of 41.0%) have been reported, almost exclusively from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with a few cases recorded in neighbouring countries and, as a consequence of evacuating/repatriating selected individual healthcare workers, also overseas. This article summarises current insight into the epidemiology, pathogen biology, clinical features, prevention, and treatment measures. For the medical specialist being confronted with an Ebola suspect or a confirmed case, understanding of the routes of transmission and profound knowledge of infection prevention measures are vital. Whilst containment and avoidance of nosocomial spread are paramount, it has been clearly shown that even the most severely ill patients do have a fair chance of survival if they have access to good supportive, and where needed, intensive care. The current outbreak boosted progress in the development of specific therapeutics and vaccines; however, to date, none of those is readily at hand for routine use. Common basic intensive care treatment strategies of circulatory and vital organ function support with a focus on counterbalancing fluid and electrolyte loss and treating concomitant bacterial infections are essential for patient survival.
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