Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes fever, body aches, and diarrhea, and sometimes bleeding inside and outside the body.
It kills up to 90% of people who are infected.
How Do You Get Ebola?
Ebola isn’t as contagious as more common viruses like colds, influenza, or measles. It spreads to people by contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, like a monkey, chimp, or fruit bat. Then it moves from person to person the same way. Those who care for a sick person or bury someone who has died from the disease often get it.
Other ways to get Ebola include touching contaminated needles or surfaces.
You can’t get Ebola from air, water, or food. A person who has Ebola but has no symptoms can’t spread the disease, either.
What Are the Symptoms of Ebola?
Early on, Ebola can feel like the flu or other illnesses. Symptoms show up 2 to 21 days after infection and usually include:
How Is Ebola Diagnosed?
Sometimes it's hard to tell if a person has Ebola from the symptoms alone. Doctors may test to rule out other diseases like cholera or malaria.
Tests of blood and tissues also can diagnose Ebola.
If you have Ebola, you’ll be isolated from the public immediately to prevent the spread.
How Is Ebola Treated?
There's no cure for Ebola, though researchers are working on it. Only one drug treatment has been approved for treating Ebola. Inmazeb is a mixture of three monoclonal antibodies (atoltivimab, maftivimab, and odesivimab-ebgn). Other treatments include an experimental serum that destroys infected cells.
Doctors manage the symptoms of Ebola with:
How Can You Prevent Ebola?
There’s a vaccine to prevent Ebola, but rVSV-ZEBOV (Ervebo) only treats the Zaire strain of the virus. The best way to avoid catching the disease is by not traveling to areas where the virus is found.
If you are in areas where Ebola is present, avoid contact with bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas since these animals spread Ebola to people. You may be able to get the vaccine from the World Health Organization.
Health care workers can prevent infection by wearing masks, gloves, and goggles whenever they come into contact with people who may have Ebola.
There are five types of Ebola virus. Four of them cause the disease in humans.
The Ebola virus first appeared during two 1976 outbreaks in Africa.
Ebola gets its name from the Ebola River, which is near one of the villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease first appeared.