National and international health authorities are currently working to control a large, ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) involving areas in West Africa. This is the largest outbreak of EVD ever documented and the first recorded in West Africa. The most up-to-date information on the Ebola outbreak can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/index.html.
Ebola is a rare and deadly disease. The virus spreads in the human population through direct contact with a sick or deceased person’s blood or body fluids, or by contact with contaminated objects. The incubation period is usually 8-10 days; however, it can stretch from 2-21 days. Patients can transmit the virus while Febrile and through later stages of disease, as well as postmortem, when persons contact the body during funeral preparations. Ebola is NOT transmissible during the incubation period (i.e., before onset of fever).
Symptoms of Ebola 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. Patients with rare forms of the disease may develop multi-organ dysfunction, including liver damage, kidney failure, and central nervous system involvement, leading to shock or death.
Healthcare workers are advised to be alert for signs and symptoms of EVD in patients with compatible illness who have a recent (within 21 days) travel history to countries where the outbreak is occurring, or had known exposure to a confirmed EVD case.
More guidance for healthcare workers can be found here.