Questions and Answers on Ebola

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How do I protect myself against Ebola?

If you must travel to an area affected by the 2014 Ebola outbreak, protect yourself by doing the following:

Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
Avoid facilities in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on medical facilities.
Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
Limit your contact with other people until and when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else besides a healthcare facility.

I am a U.S. resident experiencing some flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, headache, muscle aches). How do I know if I have seasonal influenza or Ebola?

Seasonal influenza and Ebola virus infection can cause some similar symptoms. However, of these viruses, your symptoms are most likely caused by seasonal influenza. Influenza is very common. Millions of people are infected, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu each year. In the United States, fall and winter is the time for flu. While the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, outbreaks often begin in October and can last as late as May. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. Information about current levels of U.S. flu activity is available in CDC's weekly FluView report.

In the United States, there have been two travel-associated cases and two locally acquired cases among healthcare workers. There is widespread transmission of Ebola virus disease in West Africa.

It is usually not possible to determine whether a patient has seasonal influenza or Ebola infection based on symptoms alone. However, there are tests to detect seasonal influenza and Ebola infection. Your doctor will determine if you should be tested for these illnesses based on your symptoms, clinical presentation and recent travel or exposure history.

Are there any other cases of people in the U.S. getting Ebola?

Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States. On September 30, 2014, CDC confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola (the index case) to be diagnosed in the United States in a man who had traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas, and later sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. That patient passed away of Ebola on October 8.

Two healthcare workers who had cared for the index patient at Texas Health Presbyterian tested positive for Ebola on October 10 and 15, respectively. Both of these healthcare workers have recovered and were discharged from the hospital.

On October 23, a medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic, was hospitalized in New York City with Ebola. The diagnosis was confirmed by CDC on October 24. The patient is in isolation in a New York City hospital, and public health officials are investigating and conducting contact tracing.

CDC and public health officials in Texas, New York, and Ohio are working to identify people who have had close personal contact with these patients, and healthcare professionals have been reminded to use meticulous infection control at all times.

Is there a danger of Ebola spreading in the U.S.?

Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low. We know how to stop Ebola’s further spread: thorough case finding, isolation of ill people, contacting people exposed to the ill person, and further isolation of contacts if they develop symptoms. The U.S. public health and medical systems have had prior experience with sporadic cases of diseases such as Ebola. In the past decade, the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States.


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