Neurological Complications of Ebola Virus Infection

Bridgette Jeanne Billioux, Bryan Smith, Avindra Nath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Ebola virus disease is one of the deadliest pathogens known to man, with a mortality rate between 25–90% depending on the species and outbreak of Ebola. Typically, it presents with fever, headache, voluminous vomiting and diarrhea, and can progress to a hemorrhagic illness; neurologic symptoms, including meningoencephalitis, seizures, and coma, can also occur. Recently, an outbreak occurred in West Africa, affecting > 28,000 people, and killing > 11,000. Owing to the magnitude of this outbreak, and the large number (>17,000) of Ebola survivors, the medical and scientific communities are learning much more about the acute manifestations and sequelae of Ebola. A number of neurologic complications can occur after Ebola, such as seizures, memory loss, headaches, cranial nerve abnormalities, and tremor. Ebola may also persist in some immunologically privileged sites, including the central nervous system, and can rarely lead to relapse in disease. Owing to these findings, it is important that survivors are evaluated and monitored for neurologic symptoms. Much is unknown about this disease, and treatment remains largely supportive; however, with ongoing clinical and basic science, the mechanisms of how Ebola affects the central nervous system and how it persists after acute disease will hopefully become more clear, and better treatments and clinical practices for Ebola patients will be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-470
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Ebola
  • cognition
  • deafness
  • encephalitis
  • insomnia
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • meningitis
  • microvascular disease
  • vertigo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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