1. What is Ebola virus disease?

• Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic 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 first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the other in a remote area of Sudan.

The origin of the virus is unknown but fruit bats (Pteropodidae) are considered the likely host of the Ebola virus, based on available evidence.


2. How do people become infected with the virus?

• Human to human transmission.  Infection occurs from direct contact through broken skin or mucous membranes with the blood, or other bodily fluids or secretions (stool, urine, saliva, semen) of infected people. Infection can also occur if broken skin or mucous membranes of a healthy person come into contact with environments that have become contaminated with an Ebola patient’s infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles.


  1. What are typical signs and symptoms of infection?

• Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat are typical signs and symptoms. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.


4. When should someone seek medical care?

• When symptoms occur, seek medical care immediately.


5. What is the treatment?

• Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. They are frequently dehydrated and need intravenous fluids or oral rehydration with solutions that contain electrolytes. There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease.


  1. What can I do? Can it be prevented? Is there a vaccine?

• Currently, there is no licensed medicine or vaccine for Ebola virus disease, but several products are

under development.

• Listen to and follow directives issued by your country’s respective Ministry of Health.

• If you suspect someone close to you or in your community of having Ebola virus disease, immediately encourage and support them in seeking medical treatment in a healthcare facility.

• If you choose to care for an ill person in your home, notify public health officials of your intentions so they can train you and provide appropriate personal protective equipment.

• When visiting patients in the hospital or caring for someone at home, hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand rubs is recommended after touching a patient, being in contact with their bodily fluids, or touching his/her surroundings.

• People who have died from Ebola should only be handled by public health professionals who are trained in safe burial procedures.


Is it safe to travel with persons who have Ebola?

• If the individual has not developed symptoms they cannot transmit Ebola to those around them.

• Is it safe to travel to West Africa on business or to visit family and friends?

The risk of a tourist or businessman/woman becoming infected with Ebola virus during a visit to the affected areas and developing disease after returning is extremely low, even if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported.

• Travelers should avoid all contact with infected patients.