Ebola information in various languages:
What is Ebola virus disease?
Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90%. The illness affects humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Ebola is found in several African countries. The first Ebola species was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa. The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats (Pteropodidae) are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.
The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States was in Dallas on September 30, 2014.
How do people become infected with the virus?
When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways the virus can be spread to others. These include:
• direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
• contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or with infected animals
The virus in the blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth. The viruses that cause Ebola are often spread among families and friends, because they come in close contact with blood or body fluids when caring for ill persons.
Who is most at risk?
During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers and family members or others in close contact with infected people.
What are typical signs and symptoms of infection?
A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. Signs and Symptoms of Ebola typically include:
• Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
• Severe headache
• 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.
Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
What do I do if I have these symptoms?
Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5⁰F/ 38.6⁰C) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
Limit your contact with other people until and when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else besides a healthcare facility.
What is the treatment?
Currently there are no specific vaccines or medicines (such as antiviral drug) that have been proven to be effective against Ebola.
Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
Providing intravenous(IV) fluids and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
Treating other infections if they occur
Timely treatment of Ebola is important but challenging since the disease is difficult to diagnose clinically in the early stages of infection. Because early symptoms such as headache and fever are not specific to Ebolaviruses, cases of Ebola may be initially misdiagnosed.
However, if a person has symptoms of Ebola and had contact with blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, contact with objects that have been contaminated with blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, or contact with an infected animal, the patient should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Supportive therapy can continue with proper protective clothing until samples from the patient are tested to confirm infection.
What can I do to prevent getting infected with Ebola?
If you are in or traveling to an area affected by the Ebola outbreak, protect yourself by doing the following:
Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
What about health workers? How should they protect themselves while caring for patients?
When cases of the disease do appear, there is increased risk of transmission within healthcare settings. Therefore, healthcare workers must be able to recognize a case of Ebola and be ready to use appropriate infection control measures. The aim of these techniques is to avoid contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected patient.
Appropriate procedures include:
isolation of patients with Ebola from contact with unprotected persons
wearing of protective clothing (including masks, gloves, impermeable gowns, and goggles or face shields) by persons caring for Ebola patients
the use of other infection-control measures (such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant)
Avoid touching the bodies of patients who have died from Ebola
Healthcare workers should also have the capability to request diagnostic tests or prepare samples for shipping and testing elsewhere.
Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have fever or any symptoms?
No. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear.
If someone survives Ebola, can he or she still spread the virus?
Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. People who recover from Ebola are advised to abstain from sex or use condoms for 3 months.