What is ebola virus?


Know the basics

What is ebola virus?

Ebola, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a deadly disease caused by a virus. There are five strains, which four of them are known to affect humans. When the Ebola virus enters the body, it can damage the immune system and other organs. Your blood clotting cells will decrease, causing severe and uncontrollable bleeding.

Ebola is very contagious and life-threatening. About 90% of people infected with Ebola do not survive. It is important to seek medical treatment immediately when you first suspect of having Ebola.

How common is ebola virus?

Ebola is a rare disease but is very serious. It is most commonly seen in Africa but cases have been seen in other parts of the world. Recently, there have been a few outbreaks in Africa. If you plan to travel to this area, make sure you take measures to protect yourself. Ebola can affect both men and women at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of ebola virus?

The common signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection with Ebola or Marburg virus. Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever;
  • Severe headache;
  • Joint and muscle aches;
  • Chills;
  • Weakness.

Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody);
  • Red eyes;
  • Raised rash;
  • Chest pain and cough;
  • Stomach pain;
  • Severe weight loss;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum).

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have symptoms of the illness, do not go to a health facility without calling first. Calling first will help the health care team take better care of you and protect others from the illness.

Call a doctor now if:

  • You have flu-like symptoms and you may have been exposed to the virus.
  • You have been in close contact with someone who is infected with the virus. You may need to watch for symptoms and avoid exposing others to the virus.

Know the causes

What causes ebola virus?

Ebola virus has been found in African monkeys, chimps and other nonhuman primates. A milder strain of Ebola has been discovered in monkeys and pigs in the Philippines.

Transmission from animals to humans

Experts suspect that both viruses are transmitted to humans through an infected animal’s bodily fluids. Examples include:

  • Blood. Butchering or eating infected animals can spread the viruses. Scientists who have operated on infected animals as part of their research have also contracted the virus.
  • Waste products. Tourists in certain African caves and some underground mine workers have been infected with the Marburg virus, possibly through contact with the feces or urine of infected bats.

Transmission from person to person

Infected people typically do not become contagious until they develop symptoms. Family members are often infected as they care for sick relatives or prepare the dead for burial.

Medical personnel can be infected if they do not use protective gear, such as surgical masks and gloves. Medical centers in Africa are often so poor that they must reuse needles and syringes. Some of the worst Ebola epidemics have occurred because contaminated injection equipment was not sterilized between uses.

There is no evidence that Ebola virus can be spread via insect bites.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for ebola virus?

For most people, the risk of getting Ebola (hemorrhagic fevers) is low. The risk increases if you:

  • Travel to Africa. You are at increased risk if you visit or work in areas where Ebola virus or Marburg virus outbreaks have occurred.
  • Conduct animal research. People are more likely to contract the Ebola or Marburg virus if they conduct animal research with monkeys imported from Africa or the Philippines.
  • Provide medical or personal care. Family members are often infected as they care for sick relatives. Medical personnel also can be infected if they do not use protective gear, such as surgical masks and gloves.
  • Prepare people for burial. The bodies of people who have died of Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever are still contagious. Helping prepare these bodies for burial can increase your risk of developing the disease.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is ebola virus diagnosed?

Ebola are difficult to diagnose because early signs and symptoms resemble those of other diseases, such as typhoid and malaria. If doctors suspect you have Ebola virus, they use blood tests to quickly identify the virus, including:

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

How is ebola virus treated?

There is no cure for Ebola, though researchers are working on it. Treatment includes an experimental serum that destroys infected cells.

Doctors manage the symptoms of Ebola with:

  • Fluids and electrolytes;
  • Oxygen;
  • Blood pressure medication;
  • Blood transfusions;
  • Treatment for other infections.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage ebola virus?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Ebola virus:

The only way to survive from Ebola disease is to seek prompt medical care as soon as one comes in contact of the virus or at least when symptoms are seen. Seek medical help in the following situations:

  • If you travel to a place where it is known to have Ebola virus disease such as in African countries.
  • If you come in contact with a person having Ebola viral infection.
  • If you come in contact with a person suspected to have Ebola disease.
  • If you have symptoms of or similar to Ebola virus disease, immediately seek medical care.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017