Ebola Virus Disease

Definition

Ebola virus disease is a severe infection. The infection can occur in humans and animals.

Causes

Ebola virus disease is caused by the Ebola virus. The virus can pass from person to person through blood or other bodily fluids. When these fluids come in contact with skin or mucus membranes, the virus can pass and cause the infection. The virus can also pass through contaminated needles.

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Risk Factors

Travel to areas with known Ebola outbreaks increases your risk of Ebola virus disease. Almost all cases have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.

Your chance of Ebola virus disease also increases with:

  • Exposure to a healthcare setting that has treated a person with Ebola virus disease
  • Contact with another person who has Ebola virus disease

Symptoms

Symptoms of Ebola may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Red eyes
  • Hiccups
  • Internal and external bleeding

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms, your doctor will notify health officials. This will include the local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To confirm the presence of the virus, your doctor may order blood tests. These tests will help identify the virus itself and antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are signs that your body has identified and is fighting the virus.

Treatment

Isolation is necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.

Treatment is focused on supporting you while your body fights the infection. Treatment may include:

  • IV fluids and electrolytes
  • Oxygen and blood pressure support
  • Treatment for any complicating infections
  • New therapies that are being tested or developed.

Survivors may experience lingering or persistent symptoms referred to as post-Ebola syndrome. Examples of complications include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Eye problems, including pain, discharge, redness, and blurred vision
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin rash
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, or diarrhea
  • Left-sided weakness associated with facial nerve palsy

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting Ebola virus disease:

  • Avoid traveling to an area that is experiencing an outbreak.
  • If you are a healthcare worker, wear protective clothing and follow prevention protocols. This includes masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.
  • Avoid reusing needles.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

Revisions

Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Allegiance Health or performed by Allegiance Health physicians.

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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