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Ebola: What You Need to Know


Q: What is Ebola and what are its symptoms?

A: Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Q: If I have the virus how soon will I have symptoms?

A: Symptoms appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus; But 8-10 days is most common.

Q: How is Ebola transmitted from person to person?

A: The virus is spread through direct contact, such as through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes—for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth with the blood or body fluids. These include urine, feces, saliva, semen, and other secretions of a person who is sick with Ebola. It can also be transmitted via objects like needles that have been contaminated with the virus. Contaminated animals can also transmit the virus.

Q: Isn’t Ebola also spread through the air?

A: No. Ebola is not spread through the air or by water.

Q: Could I catch Ebola from someone who has the virus but no symptoms, like a fever?

A: No. A person infected with Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

Q: What about travel on airplanes? Could I get Ebola if someone on the plane has it?

A: As already noted, Ebola is not spread through the air like the recirculating air in passenger jet cabins. (Unless a passenger jet has originated in West Africa there is no cause for any concern.) It is safe to travel by plane in the U.S. and abroad.

Q: What is the government doing to prevent people who might have Ebola from coming into the U.S.?

A: The CDC is assisting with exit screening and communication efforts on the ground in West Africa to prevent sick travelers from getting on planes. Airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are screening outbound travelers for Ebola symptoms, including fever, and passengers are required to respond to a health questionnaire.

Q: Will the U.S. see cases of Ebola, other than the two healthcare workers who had it and were brought to the U.S. for treatment?

A: It is unlikely an Ebola case will be seen in the U.S. But it best for all hospitals and medical institutions to be prepared to properly screen and manage a case.