21 facts about Ebola virus disease

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MUSC Center for Global Health answers some questions about Ebola Virus Disease with facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

1.       The Ebola virus is not waterborne or airborne.

2.       According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ebola virus can be transmitted to others through direct contact with blood or secretions and fluids of an infected person.

3.       Exposure to any objects contaminated by infected bodily secretions and fluids can also transmit the disease from person to person.

4.       Spread of Ebola can happen through close contact when caring for ill persons.

5.       Without proper cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment, Ebola can spread quickly.

6.       Ebola virus is a severe acute viral disease often mistaken as malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, cholera, leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other hemorrhagic fevers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that these diseases be ruled out before diagnosis of Ebola virus.

7.       The incubation period (time from exposure to infection or apparent symptoms) is 2-21 days, but 8-10 days is most common.

8.       Currently, there is no cure for Ebola virus—however, symptoms are treated in the infected person.

9.       Symptoms occur abruptly.

10.   Symptoms of Ebola: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite.

11.   Other symptoms of Ebola include: rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, external and internal bleeding.

12.   Ebola virus is treated by balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes; maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure; and treating them for complicating infections.

13.   Ebola virus is diagnosed using the following lab tests: antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); antigen detection tests; serum neutralization test; reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay; electron microscopy; virus isolation by cell culture.

14.   Ebola is one of many Hemorrhagic fevers.

15.   The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown.

16.   Experts believe Ebola is zoonotic with fruit bats being the likeliest reservoir and is transmitted to people from wild animals, then spreads from human to human.

17.   Ebola is now more commonly called Ebola virus disease.

18.   Ebola is caused by an infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus.

19.   Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in former Zaire, or what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River.

20.   Case fatality rate for Ebola virus is 90%, according to the WHO.

21.   Health workers treating Ebola virus patients should wear protective clothing masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles; use infection-control measures such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant; and isolated infected patients to minimize contact with unprotected patients to protect themselves from contracting Ebola virus.

(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization)

For more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visit here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html and here, http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/infection-prevention-and-control-recommendations.html and for clinicians in U.S. healthcare settings, visit here http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/clinician-information-us-healthcare-settings.html.  

For information from the World Health Organization (WHO), visit here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/