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What It's Like to Die from Ebola

Updated October 13, 2018 19.7k views13 items

Death from Ebola is a terrifying possibility. If left untreated, the disease has a fatality rate around 90%. Even if you are treated in time, you only have up to a 50% chance of surviving the Ebola virus. But the high mortality rate isn't the worst part. It's the gruesome details of how you die that makes the deadly virus so horrifying.

There are five strains of Ebola, four of which can make you sick. It was first discovered fairly recently, in 1976. Since then, there have been 33 recorded outbreaks. The most deadly one came in 2014 in West Africa. The disease started in Guinea during that tragic outbreak, and spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. During the outbreak, 28,646 people were infected and 11,323 died.

Unless you're traveling to an area where the virus is present, chances are slim that you'll catch the Ebola virus yourself. But if you want to learn more about this dreadful disease, keep reading.

  • You Won't Know It's Ebola For Days

    You Won't Know It's Eb is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list What It's Like to Die from Ebola
    Photo: DFID - UK Department for International Development / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Ebola is not testable for several days after the symptoms first begin to appear. The most accurate test is called the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which looks for genetic material from the virus. It can be three to five days before enough genetic material is present in the body to be detected. At this point, though, a positive test result indicates that yes, you have Ebola.

  • You Are Quarantined

    You Are Quarantined is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list What It's Like to Die from Ebola
    Photo: Army Medicine / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    If you are in a place where there is modern medical infrastructure, a diagnosis of Ebola will land you straight in quarantine. The medical staff that cares for you will be covered from head to toe in protective gear. Efforts will be made to sterilize everything you come into contact with. Since most people who contract Ebola get it by caring for someone who has it, the staff around you are going to be taking every precaution to avoid infection.

  • Your Cells Are Bursting

    Your Cells Are Bursting is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list What It's Like to Die from Ebola
    Photo: CDC Global Health / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    On the microscopic level, the Ebola virus is wreaking havoc on your body. Most notably, it's infecting your cells. The virus enters cells, where it then replicates itself. Once that process is complete, it explodes out of the cells to continue its path through the body.

  • It Hijacks Your Immune System

    Normally, your immune system would get to work fighting a virus, but not when you have Ebola. Instead, your white blood cells get infected. The virus then sends the infected white blood cells to other parts of the body, such as the spleen, liver, and brain. This eventually triggers those organs into shutting down completely.

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