Ebola virus


Definition of Ebola virus

: any of several filoviruses (genus Ebolavirus and especially species Zaire ebolavirus) of African origin that cause an often fatal hemorrhagic fever

First Known Use of Ebola virus

1976, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Ebola virus

from the Ebola River in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire)

Note: According to Peter Piot, a Belgian member of an international commission formed to investigate the first outbreak of the virus in 1976, the name was chosen by members of the commission (including the French physician Pierre Sureau and the Americans Karl Johnson and Joel Breman) from a map of Zaire at the Fonds Médical Tropical, a non-governmental organization in Kinshasa where the members were lodged. Though the Ebola River (a headwater stream of the Mongala River, a tributary of the Congo) turned out to be a considerable distance from the village of Yambuku where the fever was first observed, the name was nonetheless retained. The name "Yambuku virus" was avoided because of the stigma it would have attached to the village. (See Peter Piot, No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses, W.W. Norton, 2012, pp. 56-57.)

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The first known use of Ebola virus was in 1976

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Cite this Entry

“Ebola virus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Ebola%20virus. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for Ebola virus

Ebola virus


Medical Definition of Ebola virus

: any of several single-stranded RNA viruses of the family Filoviridae (especially species Zaire Ebola virus) of African origin that cause an often fatal hemorrhagic fever


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