What is Ebola Virus Disease?
Ebola Virus Disease is caused by the Ebola virus and is one of a number of hemorrhagic fever diseases. Ebola causes severe illness in which 50-90 percent of those infected die. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is thought to be transmitted to people from wild animals. While the exact source of the virus in animals is unknown, Ebola has been found in bats and primates. The virus is thought to be transmitted to humans through the infected animal’s body fluids, such as eating an infected animal. The virus then spreads in humans from one person to another.
Among humans, Ebola is spread by:
- Direct contact with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk and semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
- Direct contact with objects (like needles or syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus.
Ebola is NOT spread through casual contact, through air or water, or through food grown or legally purchased in the U.S. There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus.
A person infected with the Ebola virus cannot pass it to others before any symptoms appear.
Who is at risk for Ebola?
Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at highest risk because they may come into contact with infected blood or body fluids.
How do you treat Ebola?
There is no medication that cures a patient of the infection. Treatment for Ebola is supportive, meaning providing fluids, maintaining blood pressure, replacing lost blood.
Early identification of Ebola is crucial. Getting health care as soon as symptoms appear increases the chances of surviving. It also prevents other people from getting infected because they will not come into contact with blood and body fluids of infected people.
How do you prevent Ebola?
There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Prevention should focus on avoiding contact with the virus:
- Avoid areas with outbreaks.
- Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of those who are ill or have died from Ebola.
- Don’t handle items that have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves, masks, gowns and eye protection if caring for a person with Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and primates in areas affected by an Ebola outbreak. Don't eat bush meat.
What about travel?
Before you travel
- Talk with your doctor or a travel medicine clinic if you are planning a trip to areas of West Africa where outbreaks are occurring, including Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
- Check the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for travel notices on specific diseases and countries.
After you travel
If anyone gets a fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting or diarrhea within three weeks of returning from your trip:
- Call your doctor or clinic right away. They will let you know if you need to come in for a visit.
- Tell your doctor where you traveled, what activities you were involved in, and if you had contact with anyone who had Ebola.
After 21 days, if an exposed person does not develop symptoms, they will not become sick with Ebola.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Updated October, 2014