If you get sick with ebola, limit contact with others. This means staying home from work or school to avoid infecting others.

What is Ebola Virus Disease?

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare but deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. It has previously been known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

How is Ebola transmitted?

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood or bodily fluids (such as urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick or objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated.

Can Ebola spread by coughing? By sneezing?

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with body fluids of a person who is sick. Although coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms, if a sick patient coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucuscome into contact with that person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Symptoms can appear 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola. Symptoms include:

  • Fever (greater than 101.5 degrees F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Why is medical staff asking about my travel history?

The 2014 Ebola epidemic is affecting many countries in West Africa. On Sept. 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States. Although the risk of Ebola spreading in the United States is very low, the CDC and its partners are taking actions to prevent this from happening.

Your travel history helps us care for you and keep our community healthy. If you or someone close to you has traveled to one of these countries within the last three weeks, please tell the medical staff:

  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone

Is Summit Health prepared for a possible case?

Summit Health has plans and polices that address public health emergencies, such as the occurrence of Ebola. We maintain infection control practices, train employees, and review competencies regularly. We follow best practices for infection control for many types of diseases. Although Ebola is a serious
disease, our infection control practices for preventing its spread are not that different from the practices used with several other infectious diseases.

We are continually revising our plans based on current CDC recommendations. Should the need arise to respond to Ebola in our region, Summit Health has isolation capabilities and would assess the unique needs of an Ebola patient and implement recommendations from the CDC.

How is Ebola treated?

There is no FDA-approved vaccine available for Ebola. Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response.
Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. However, Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. People who recover from Ebola are advised to abstain from sex or use condoms for 3 months.

I traveled and/or am in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak. What precautions can I take to protect myself?

If you travel to or are in an area affected by an Ebola outbreak, make sure to do the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Do NOT touch the blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, and semen) of people who are sick
  • Do NOT handle items that may have come in contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids, like clothes bedding, needles, or medical equipment
  • Do NOT touch the body of someone who has died of Ebola

I’ve returned from West Africa. Should I monitor for symptoms and what should I check for?

You should check for signs and symptoms of Ebola for 21 days:

  • Take your temperature every morning and evening
  • Watch for other Ebola symptoms, like severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Call your doctor even if you do not have symptoms. The doctor can evaluate your exposure level and any symptoms and consult with public health authorities to determine if actions are needed
  • During the time that you are watching for signs and symptoms, you can continue your normal activities, including going to work

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html

The Pennsylania Department of Health (DOH) - http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/department_of_health_home/17457