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The viral envelope (gray) and viral proteins (red) involved in binding to and entering host cells are shown. The helical core is not visible.
Ebola virus and its relative Marburg virus are perhaps best known for the gruesome clinical manifestations and high fatality rates they cause in humans. Outbreaks of Ebola virus infection are known to have occurred in Africa as early as 1976, but until 2014 they were short-lived and isolated to relatively small groups of people. The outbreak in West Africa in 2014 spread primarily across Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, killing more than 11,000 people over the course of two years. During this time, limited virus spread also occurred in several other countries, but was quickly controlled. Ebola virus is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans from infected animals. Bats are known to carry Ebola virus, and the transmission of the virus from wild bat populations to humans is referred to as a spillover event.