Ebola: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Last Updated: 1.7.16
What is Ebola virus disease?
Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal, viral disease. For the most current information regarding Ebola and outbreaks, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Ebola symptoms usually include fever. Other symptoms may include headache, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, joint and muscle aches, stomach pain, lack of appetite and bleeding. The symptoms can be similar to other, more common, infections. Symptoms appear 2-21 days after exposure to the virus, but most commonly occur 8-10 days after exposure.
How is Ebola spread?
Individuals who do not have a fever are not contagious and cannot transmit the disease to another person. The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person who has symptoms or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected body fluids. Transmission can also occur from directly handling bats, rodents or primates in areas where Ebola occurs. Ebola droplets are not airborne. Ebola cannot be spread through water or food (except for native bush meat). Ebola is not in food that is grown or legally purchased in the United States.
Who is at risk for Ebola?
Individuals who have recently been in a country with known Ebola virus disease and who also have:
- Contact with blood or other body fluids of a patient or dead body known to have or suspected to have EVD, or
- Direct handling of bats, rodents or primates.
If someone has symptoms of Ebola virus disease and a possible exposure, that person should contact a health care provider immediately.
What is the treatment for Ebola?
There is no specific treatment for Ebola; treatment is limited to close monitoring and supportive care in a hospital. See: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/treatment/index.html
Seasonal flu and Ebola virus infection can cause some similar symptoms. However, in Anne Arundel County, the symptoms are more likely caused by the more common seasonal flu than Ebola. In the United States, infections with Ebola virus have been uncommon and connected to travelers from one of the affected countries in West Africa or to health care workers caring for an Ebola patient from West Africa.
Each year, millions of people are infected, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from the seasonal flu. In the United States, flu activity usually peaks between December and February; however, seasonal flu outbreaks sometime begin as early as October and can occur as late as May.
There are tests to detect seasonal influenza and Ebola infection. A health care provider will determine if a patient should be tested for these illnesses based on recent travel or exposure history, symptoms, and clinical presentation. For more information about Ebola virus infection, go to CDC - Ebola Virus Disease.
An annual seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to help prevent getting the seasonal flu. For information about appointment-only flu vaccine clinics, see Seasonal Flu Vaccine.
What is the risk of Ebola in Maryland?
Currently, the risk of acquiring the Ebola virus disease in Maryland is extremely low. As of September 15, 2015, there has been no confirmed case acquired in Maryland. If a case is identified, there are established infection control guidelines to prevent transmission.
What is the Anne Arundel County Department of Health doing?
The County Department of Health is in constant communication with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) concerning protocols and guidelines for assessing any suspected Ebola case and those at risk. DHMH works with health care providers and local health departments to quickly investigate reports of possible Ebola virus infections. The DHMH partners with federal health officials in order to monitor the national and global situation. See Local Partnerships Help to Ensure Ebola Disease Preparedness.
Although most workers are unlikely to encounter Ebola virus, are there guidelines and precautionary measures for workers in certain jobs, such as the health care, mortuary and death care, and airline servicing industries?
Yes, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides general guidance for workers with recommendations for health care workers; airline and other travel industry personnel; mortuary and death care workers; laboratory personnel; border, customs and quarantine workers; emergency responders; and other workers in critical sectors. See Ebola: Occupational Safety and Health.
Can pets get Ebola?
Pets are not at significant risk for Ebola in the United States. See Ebola and Pets
Where can I get current and factual information about Ebola?