What is Ebola?
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a rare and deadly disease. The disease is native to several African countries and is caused by infection with one of the ebola viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, or Taï Forest virus). It is spread by direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.
Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite and abnormal bleeding. These symptoms typically manifest within 8–10 days, but the incubation period could potentially range from 2–21 days.
Ebola is NOT spread through air, water, or food. You can only get Ebola from touching bodily fluids from a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, or from exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.
The risk for person-to-person transmission of hemorrhagic fever viruses is greatest during the latter stages of illness when viral loads are highest. Ebola is not transmissible during the incubation period (i.e., before onset of fever). You can live or attend class with a person who has been to an affected area without putting yourself at risk
If you have been to Sierra Leone, Guinea, or Liberia in the past month, there is a possibility that you may have been exposed to Ebola. All persons arriving in North Carolina who traveled to an affected region within 21 days and either had contact with a known or suspected Ebola case; worked in a healthcare setting in an affected region; or participated in funeral rites in an affected region should contact their local health department or the Communicable Disease Branch epidemiologist on call to undergo a thorough risk assessment.
Please complete the Self Reporting Form if you have been to an affected region or exposed to a potential Ebola case.
Ebola should be suspected and testing is recommended for febrile, having or showing signs of fever, patients with clinically compatible illness who, within 3 weeks before onset of fever, have had a high-risk exposure, defined as follows:
- Percutaneous, e.g. the needle stick, or mucous membrane exposure to body fluids of Ebola Virus Disease patient
- Direct care or exposure to body fluids of an EVD patient without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Laboratory worker processing body fluids of confirmed EVD patients without appropriate PPE or standard biosafety precautions
- Participation in funeral rites which include direct exposure to human remains in the geographic area where outbreak is occurring without appropriate PPE
Ebola and testing should be considered for febrile patients with clinically compatible illness who, within 3 weeks before onset of fever, have had a low-risk exposure, defined as follows:
- Household member or other casual contact with an EVD patient. Casual contact is defined at the following web page: Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Case Definition for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
- Providing patient care or casual contact without high-risk exposure with EVD patients in health care facilities in EVD outbreak affected countries