What is Ebola?
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
The natural reservoir host of Ebola remains unknown. However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne with bats being the most likely reservoir.
How does Ebola spread?
Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola has not yet been identified, the manner by which the virus first appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, researchers believe that the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal.
When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways the virus can be spread to others.
The virus in the blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth. The viruses that cause Ebola are often spread among families and friends, because they come in close contact with blood
or body fluids when caring for ill persons. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
What is the treatment for Ebola?
No specific vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) has been proven to be effective against Ebola. Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
How can Ebola be prevented?
If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following: