Ebola Virus Disease

Definition

Ebola virus disease is a severe infection. It can have a mortality rate of up to 90%. 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 secretions. 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 increase your risk of Ebola virus disease. Almost all cases have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. No cases have been reported in the US.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
If you have any of these do not assume it is due to Ebola. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms and to the virus, 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.

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Treatment

There is no cure. You will be isolated 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

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting Ebola virus disease, take the following steps:
  • Avoid traveling to an area that is experiencing an outbreak.
  • If you are a health care worker, wear protective clothing. This includes masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.
  • Avoid reusing needles.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Ebola virus disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/. Updated March 18, 2015. Accessed March 19, 2015.

Ebola virus disease. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/. Updated September 2014. Accessed March 19, 2015.

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