Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever: Fact Sheet
How is Ebola virus spread? continued...
Nosocomial transmission has been associated frequently with Ebola HF
outbreaks. It includes both types of transmission described above, but it is
used to describe the spread of disease in a health-care setting such as a
clinic or hospital. In African health-care facilities, patients are often cared
for without the use of a mask, gown, or gloves, and exposure to the virus has
occurred when health care workers treated individuals with Ebola HF without
wearing these types of protective clothing. In addition, when needles or
syringes are used, they may not be of the disposable type, or may not have been
sterilized, but only rinsed before re-insertion into multi-use vials of
medicine. If needles or syringes become contaminated with virus and are then
reused, numbers of people can become infected.
Ebola-Reston that appeared in a primate research facility in Virginia, may
have been transmitted from monkey to monkey through the air in the facility.
While all Ebola virus species have displayed the ability to be spread through
airborne particles (aerosols) under research conditions, this type of spread
has not been documented among humans in a real-world setting, such as a
hospital or household.
What are the symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever?
The signs and symptoms of Ebola HF are not the same for all patients. The
table below outlines symptoms of the disease, according to the frequency with
which they have been reported in known cases.
Symptoms that occur in most Ebola
Symptoms that occur in some Ebola
Within a few days of becoming infected with the virus:
high fever, headache, muscle aches, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea
sore throat, hiccups, rash, red and itchy eyes, vomiting blood, bloody
Within one week of becoming infected with the virus:
chest pain, shock, and death
Researchers do not understand why some people are able to recover from Ebola
HF and others are not. However, it is known that patients who die usually have
not developed a significant immune response to the virus at the time of
How is Ebola hemorrhagic fever clinically diagnosed?
Diagnosing Ebola HF in an individual who has been infected only a few days
is difficult because early symptoms, such as red and itchy eyes and a skin
rash, are nonspecific to the virus and are seen in other patients with diseases
that occur much more frequently. If a person has the constellation of symptoms
described in the table above, and infection with Ebola virus is suspected,
several laboratory tests should be done promptly. These include a blood film
examination for malaria and a blood culture. If the suspected patient has
bloody diarrhea, a stool culture should also be performed.