What Is the Mortality Rate of Ebola? Rates by Strain

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What is the mortality rate of Ebola? Are the mortality rates different depending on the strain of the virus?

For the Ebola death rate, it’s important to also consider the multiple strains of the virus. The mortality rate of Ebola varies depending on the strain of the virus. In general, the mortality rate of Ebola is high compared to other viruses.

So what is the mortality rate of Ebola? Read to find out about each strain.

What Is the Mortality Rate of Ebola?

Viruses hide among all living things—some are harmless, and some have the potential to wipe out huge swaths of people. 

The Ebola virus’s sister virus, Marburg, first appeared in the 1960s. Marburg and Ebola have only emerged a handful of times since, but most of the victims and communities hit with Marburg or Ebola have been devastated by the viruses’ brutal physical attacks, high infectiveness, and astronomical kill rates. 

We’ll discuss the known outbreaks of Ebola and Marburg, as well as the potential for future outbreaks. But first, let’s talk about what the virus is and does. 

The Filovirus Family

So what is the mortality rate of Ebola? That depends on the strain. Ebola belongs to a family of viruses named filoviruses, meaning “thread viruses,” because they look like threads or ropes under a microscope.

There are four viruses in the filovirus family: 

  1. Marburg, the mildest strain, with a kill rate of 1 in 4
  2. Ebola Sudan, with a kill rate of about 1 in 2
  3. Ebola Zaire, the deadliest strain, with a kill rate of 9 in 10 
  4. Ebola Reston, the most recently discovered strain, which we’ll get to later 

(Shortform note: Since the book’s publication, three more filoviruses have been identified, all of which are strains of Ebola: Bundibugyo, Taï Forest, and Bombali.)

Viruses are parasites. They lie dormant until they can latch onto another cell, at which point they use the cell’s materials to replicate ceaselessly, until the cell either bursts or is exhausted and destroyed. 

The Ebola virus targets its host’s immune system, preventing the host’s body from fighting off the disease. But viruses need a living host to survive, so when a victim dies, the virus must jump hosts. Ebola is transmitted through exposure to the blood or bodily fluids of an infected victim or corpse.

With the exception of Ebola Reston, filoviruses don’t appear to discriminate between people and animals, and they can jump easily from one to the other. This helps answer the question “what is the mortality rate of Ebola?”

What Is the Mortality Rate of Ebola? Rates by Strain

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Hot Zone summary:

  • The many different strains of Ebola, including the deadliest kind with a kill rate of 90%
  • How scientists unraveled the mystery of a new strain of Ebola
  • How Ebola could become airborne, becoming one of the deadliest viruses known

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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