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Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, which are reportable diseases in Oklahoma.  EHF is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).  EHF is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus.  The disease is native to equatorial Africa and is caused by infection with one of the ebolaviruses (Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, or Taj Forest virus).  The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976 in Sudan and in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River.  Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in African countries.

Since early 2014, an outbreak of Ebola has been occurring in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. 

The reservoir of ebolaviruses is unknown.  However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, non-human primates and/or bats may have a role in the chain of transmission to humans.  When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways in which the virus can be transmitted to others: direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person; or exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.  The viruses that cause EHF often spread to families and friends because they come in close contact with infectious secretions when caring for persons ill with ebola.

Symptoms of EHF include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.  Skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.

Are persons in the United States at risk?

Even as people are found to have Ebola in the US, the general population is not at risk.  Only people with direct contact with someone who has Ebola, or with that person’s contaminated surroundings, may be at risk.  Household members, family and healthcare providers who are in close contact with someone with Ebola must take steps to protect themselves from contact with blood or bodily fluids.

What can travelers do to prevent Ebola?

  • Check the CDC traveler’s health website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel for warnings and advisories prior to travel to learn what is currently occurring in the area you plan to visit. Click here if you have traveled recently and have questions.
  • Practice careful hygiene.  Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of ill people.  Do not handle items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that involve handling the body of the deceased.
  • Avoid contact with animals or with raw meat.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.  The US Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities that are suitable for your needs.

What if I become ill after traveling to a country where Ebola has been spreading?

People who have traveled to a country where Ebola is being spread should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, headache, achiness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes within 21 days of traveling.  Inform the first person you see associated with the medical facility that you recently traveled to one of the countries where Ebola is being spread.

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Resources:

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Fact Sheet (235k.pdf)

Ebola Posters (4M.pdf)

External Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever Resources:

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (CDC)

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (WHO)

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