About the Ebola hemorrhagic fever
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Ebola HF is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. When infection occurs, symptoms usually begin abruptly. The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.
There are five identified subspecies of Ebolavirus. Four of the five have caused disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.
The natural reservoir host of ebolaviruses remains unknown. However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is zoonotic (animal-borne) with bats being the most likely reservoir. Four of the five subtypes occur in an animal host native to Africa
- Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Lack of appetite
Because we still do not know exactly how people are infected with Ebola, few primary prevention measures have been established and no vaccine exists.
When cases of the disease do appear, risk of transmission is increased within healthcare settings. Therefore, healthcare workers must be able to recognize a case of Ebola and be ready to use practical viral hemorrhagic fever isolation precautions or barrier nursing techniques. They should also have the capability to request diagnostic tests or prepare samples for shipping and testing elsewhere.
Barrier nursing techniques include:
- wearing of protective clothing (such as masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles)
- using infection-control measures (such as complete equipment sterilization and routine use of disinfectant)
- isolating patients with Ebola from contact with unprotected persons.
The aim of all of these techniques is to avoid contact with the blood or secretions of an infected patient. If a patient with Ebola dies, direct contact with the body of the deceased patient should be avoided.
CDC, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, has developed a set of guidelines to help prevent and control the spread of Ebola. Entitled Infection Control for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting, the manual describes how to
- recognize cases of viral hemorrhagic fever (such as Ebola)
- prevent further transmission in healthcare setting by using locally available materials and minimal financial resources.
If you must travel to an area with known Ebola cases, make sure to do the following:
- Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
- Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with animals and raw meat.
- Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
- After you return, monitor your health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if you develop symptoms of Ebola.
Download the Ebola Facts sheet
Cases of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in Africa, 1976 - 2014
Information from Center for Disease Control : click for more about Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever