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Ebola Virus Disease

Pronounced: ee-BOWL-uh Vi-russ Dizz-ez

Definition

Ebola is a rare, life-threatening, viral infection. It is found in humans and animals. It needs care right away.

Causes

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.

Virus Attack on Cell
Virus

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Risk Factors

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

Symptoms

Common symptoms of Ebola are:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Rash
  • Red eyes
  • Bleeding

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms, travel and health history. A physical exam may be done. Ebola is diagnosed by blood tests.

Treatment

Treatment is focused on life support. It involves giving:

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

Prevention

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
RESOURCES:

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

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Alberta Health Services
https://www.albertahealthservices.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. 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