Formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, the Ebola virus first appeared in 1976 in Zaire, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
The first outbreak (Ebola-Sudan) in 1976 infected over 284 people, killing 53 per cent. Months later, the second outbreak (Ebola-Zaire - EBOZ) infected 318 persons, killing 90 per cent.
The third strain, Ebola Reston (EBOR), was in 1989, when infected monkeys were imported into Reston, Virginia, United States, from Mindanao in the Philippines.
The last known strain, Ebola Cote d'Ivoire (EBO-CI) was in 1994 when a female ethologist performing a necropsy on a dead chimpanzee from the Tai Forest, Cote d'Ivoire, accidentally infected herself.
In October 1976, Dr Frederick Murphy, chief of the viral pathology branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was the first to study this new deadly disease.