The Ebola virus (EBOV)is a member of the family of Filoviruses. Five species of Ebola virus are known to exist, and four of these species cause Ebola virus disease (EVD) in humans, which is a type of hemorrhagic fever with a very high fatality rate. In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) began investigating an outbreak of a new strain of EBOV in western Africa, beginning in Guinea, then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, with some limited cases also in Nigeria and Senegal.
This new strain of EBOV is thought to be a mutated strain of the original central african EBOV, based on genetic lineages. This west African outbreak of EBOV is now the most severe of its kind since ebolaviruses were first discovered in 1976 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).
As of this writing (October 18th, 2014) there have been over 9200 suspected cases of EBOV resulting in over 4500 deaths. Within weeks it is estimated that as many as 10000 people per week may be getting infected, and as many as 1.6 million by January 2015. Over 200 healthcare workers in Africa have succumbed to the disease.