NCDHHS Ebola Information

About Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains.  Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).

Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/virus-families/filoviridae.html), genus Ebolavirus.  There are five identified Ebola virus species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Tai Forest virus (Tai Forest ebolavirus, formerly Cote d’lvoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.

Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.

The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown.  However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir.  Four of the five virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.

Source: CDC.gov

 

Information for the Public

An Ebola public information line has been established by Carolinas Poison Control.  The number is 1-800-222-1222, and callers should press 6 for questions about Ebola.

Ebola is only contagious after the onset of symptoms.  The incubation period before symptoms may appear is 2-21 days, with 8-10 days being the most common.  Ebola is spread through unprotected contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is infected.  Anyone who becomes ill within 21 days after traveling to an affected area in West Africa should contact a healthcare provider right away and limit their contact with others until they have been evaluated.

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or through your eyes, nose or mouth) with

  • Blood and body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat and semen) or a person who is sick with Ebola.
  • Objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.

Ebola is not spread through the air, water or food.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola.  Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Symptoms of Ebola

  • Fever greater than 101.5F (38.6C)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

To protect yourself from Ebola

  • DO wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick.
  • Do NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes, bedding, needles or medical equipment.
  • Do NOT touch the body of someone who has died of Ebola.

CDC: Facts about Ebola (PDF, 217KB) (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/facts-about-ebola.pdf)

CDC: What You Need to Know about Ebola (PDF, 203MB)(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/what-need-to-know-ebola.pdf)

CDC: Facts about Ebola in the US (PDF, 250KB)(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/infographic.pdf)

CDC: Stopping the Ebola Outbreak (PDF, 140KB)(http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ghs-ebola-materials.pdf target=)