Definition

Ebola is a serious viral infection that needs immediate care. The infection is in both humans and animals.

Causes

Ebolaviruses cause the disease. The viruses pass between people through direct contact with:

  • Blood or bodily fluids from someone who has the disease
  • Infected animals such as fruit bats, apes, or monkeys
  • Contaminated needles

The viruses enter the body though breaks in the skin or mucous membranes.

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Risk Factors

Your risk of Ebola is higher if you live in or travel to sub-Saharan Africa. Almost all cases have occurred in this part of the world.

Risk is also higher for those:

  • In a healthcare setting where the disease was treated
  • In contact with a person who has the disease
  • In contact with the corpse of an infected person
  • Handling infected animals
  • Who got a needlestick

Symptoms

Common Ebola symptoms:

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. Your doctor may suspect Ebola based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Blood tests can confirm it.

Your doctor will contact local and state health departments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Treatment

You will be isolated to keep the disease from spreading to other people. There are no medicines to treat the disease. The healthcare team will support your care while your body fights the infection. Care involves:

  • IV fluids
  • IV electrolytes
  • Oxygen support
  • Blood pressure support

Survivors may have lingering symptoms known as post-Ebola virus syndrome. Examples include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Eye problems, including pain, discharge, redness, and blurred vision
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin rash
  • Belly pain, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, or diarrhea

Prevention

To help lower your chances of Ebola:

  • Don't travel during disease outbreaks.
  • Wear protective clothing and follow prevention protocols. This includes masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.
  • Don't share or reuse needles.
  • Avoid contact with people infected with Ebola.
RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov

World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Alberta Health
http://www.health.alberta.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Ebola virus disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola. Updated June 13, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018.

Ebola virus disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114821/Ebola-virus-disease. Updated May 10, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2018.

Ebola virus disease. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease. Updated February 12, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2018.

3/28/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114821/Ebola-virus-disease: Scott JT, Sesay FR, Massaquoi TA, Idriss BR, Sahr F, Semple MG. Post-ebola syndrome, Sierra Leone. Emerg Infect Dis. 2016;22(4):641-646.

Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 5/15/2018