Author(s): Baron RC, McCormick JB, Zubeir OA
Between 31 July and 6 October 1979, 34 cases of Ebola virus disease (22 of which were fatal) occurred among five families in a rural district of southern Sudan; the disease was introduced into four of the families from a local hospital. Chains of secondary spread within the family units, accounting for 29 cases resulted from direct physical contact with an infected person. Among all persons with such contact in the family setting, those who provided nursing care had a 5.1-fold increased risk of infection, emphasizing the importance of intimate contact in the spread of this disease. The absence of illness among persons who were exposed to cases in confined spaces, but without physical contact, confirmed previous impressions that there is no risk of airborne transmission. While the ecology of Ebola virus is unknown, the presence of anti-Ebola antibodies in the sera of 18% of persons who were unassociated with the outbreak suggests that the region is an endemic focus of Ebola virus activity.