On July 27, 1976, the very first person to contract the Ebola virus began to show symptoms. Ten days later he was dead. Over the course of the next few months, the first Ebola outbreaks in history occurred in Sudan and Zaire*, with a total of 602 reported cases and 431 deaths.
The first victim to contract Ebola was a cotton factory worker from Nzara, Sudan. Soon after this first man came down with symptoms, so did his co-worker.
Then the co-worker"s wife became sick. The outbreak quickly spread to the Sudanese town of Maridi, where there was a hospital.
Since no one in the medical field had ever seen this illness before, it took them awhile to realize that it was passed by close contact. By the time the outbreak had subsided in the Sudan, 284 people had become ill, 151 of whom had died.
This new illness was a killer, causing fatality in 53% of its victims. This strain of the virus is now called Ebola-Sudan.
On September 1, 1976, another, even more deadly, outbreak of Ebola struck - this time in Zaire. The first victim of this outbreak was a 44-year-old teacher who had just returned from a tour of northern Zaire.
After suffering from symptoms that seemed like malaria, this first victim went to the Yambuku Mission Hospital and received a shot of an anti-malarial drug. Unfortunately, at that time the hospital did not use disposable needles nor did they properly sterilize the ones they used.
Thus, the Ebola virus spread through used needles to many of the hospital"s patients.
For four weeks, the outbreak continued to expand. However, the outbreak finally ended after the Yambuku Mission Hospital was closed down (11 of the 17 hospital staff having died) and the remaining Ebola victims were isolated.
In Zaire, the Ebola virus had been contracted by 318 people, 280 of whom died. This strain of the Ebola virus, now called Ebola-Zaire, killed 88% of its victims.
The Ebola-Zaire strain remains the most deadly of the Ebola viruses.
The Ebola virus is deadly, but since the initial symptoms can seem similar to many other