Ebola is a rare, life-threatening, viral infection. It is found in humans and animals. It needs care right away.
The infection is caused by ebolaviruses. The viruses pass between people through contact with:
- Blood, feces, or vomit from an infected person
- Infected animals such as fruit bats, rodents, apes, or monkeys
- Objects that are contaminated with the virus
The viruses enter the body though breaks in the skin. They can also enter the eyes, nose, or mouth.
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Ebola is most common in central Africa. The risk is higher for those who live in or travel to that area.
The risk is highest for those who:
- Work in health care
- Live with infected people
- Handle infected animals
- Share infected objects, especially needles
Common symptoms of Ebola are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint and muscle aches
- Red eyes
The doctor will ask about symptoms, travel and health history. A physical exam may be done. Ebola is diagnosed by blood tests.
Treatment is focused on life support. It involves giving:
- IV fluids
- IV electrolytes
- Oxygen support
- Blood pressure support
Ebola may be prevented by:
- Avoiding contact with people infected with Ebola
- Not traveling during outbreaks
- Wearing masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles
- Not sharing or reusing needles
Ebola virus disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola. Accessed February 2, 2021.
Ebola virus disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ebola-virus-disease. Accessed February 2, 2021.
Ebola virus disease. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease. Accessed February 2, 2021.
Feldmann H, Sprecher A, et al. Ebola. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(19):1832-1842.
Last reviewed September 2020 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 2/2/2021