Ebola Fact Sheet

Minnesota Department of Health
October 27, 2014

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What is Ebola disease?

Ebola disease is caused by the Ebola virus and is one of a number of hemorrhagic fever diseases. Ebola disease causes severe illness in which 50-90 percent of those infected die. Ebola disease was first discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River.

What are the symptoms of Ebola disease?

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abnormal bleeding

Some patients have a rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or bleeding inside and outside the body.

Symptoms most commonly start 8-10 days after coming into contact with the Ebola virus but can occur as early as 2 days to up to 21 days after exposure.

How is Ebola disease spread?

Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with:

  • Blood or other body fluids (such as: vomit, diarrhea, urine, breast milk, sweat, semen) of an infected person who currently has symptoms of Ebola or who has recently died from Ebola.
  • Objects or surfaces contaminated by body fluids of a person infected with Ebola virus, for example clothing or bedding of an ill person.

A person infected with the Ebola virus cannot pass it to others before any symptoms appear.

Ebola virus is thought to be transmitted to people from wild animals and then spreads in humans from one person to another. The exact source of the virus in animals is unknown, but 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.

Who is at risk for Ebola disease?

The risk of catching Ebola in the general public is extremely low.

Health care providers or family members caring for Ebola patients are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.

How do you treat Ebola disease?

  • There is no medication that cures Ebola and no vaccine to prevent it.
  • Treatment for Ebola disease is supportive, meaning providing fluids, maintaining blood pressure, replacing lost blood.
  • Seeking 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 disease?

  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of those who are ill.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Don’t handle items that have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Use protective clothing such as gloves, masks, gowns when caring for sick persons.
  • Avoid contact with sick or dead wild animals.
  • Do not eat wild animals or bush meat.
  • Avoid areas with outbreaks.

What about travel?

Before you travel

  • Talk with your doctor or a travel medicine clinic if you are planning a trip to areas where outbreaks are occurring.
  • Check the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website for travel notices on specific diseases and countries, see wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

After you travel
If anyone gets a fever, headache, joint and muscle aches 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.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization


Updated Monday, October 27, 2014 at 03:14PM