Frequently Asked Questions on Ebola virus disease

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What is  Ebola virus disease (EVD)?

Ebola is a severe, infectious often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) caused by infection with Ebola virus.  It is very infectious, kills in a short time BUT can be prevented.

How is it spread?

The natural reservoir of the virus is unknown and it is not always clear how the virus first appears in humans. Usually the first person gets infected through contact with an infected animal.

People can be exposed to Ebola virus from direct physical contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, urine, sweat etc. of an infected person and soiled linen used by a patient.

It can be spread through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

Incubation period is 2-21 days.

What are the signs and symptoms of EVD?

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Measles like rash
  • A rash, red eyes, hiccups and Bleeding from body openings  may be seen in some patients

How can it be prevented?

  • Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Ebola or a deceased patient by wearing gloves, goggles, and masks
  • Persons suspected to be suffering from Ebola should be taken to the nearest health unit immediately for medical attention. Tracing and follow up of people who may have been exposed to Ebola through close contact with patients are essential.
  • Persons who have died of Ebola must be handled using strong protective wear and buried immediately;
  • Report any suspected cases of Ebola to the nearest health unit immediately
  • Suspected cases should be isolated from other patients and strict barrier nursing techniques implemented.
  • All hospital staff should be briefed on the nature of the disease and its transmission routes. Particular emphasis should be placed on ensuring that invasive procedures such as the placing of intravenous lines and the handling of blood, secretions, catheters and suction devices are carried out under strict barrier nursing conditions. Hospital staff should have individual gowns, gloves, masks and goggles. Non-disposable protective equipment must not be reused unless they have been properly disinfected.
  • Infection may also spread through contact with the soiled clothing or bed linens from a patient with Ebola. Disinfection is therefore required before handling these items.
  • Communities affected by Ebola should make efforts to ensure that the population is well informed, both about the nature of the disease itself and about necessary outbreak containment measures, including burial of the deceased. People who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried.

Contacts

  • As the primary mode of person-to-person transmission is contact with contaminated blood, secretions or body fluids, people who have had close physical contact with patients should be kept under strict surveillance. Their body temperature should be checked twice a day, with immediate hospitalization and strict isolation in case of the onset of fever.

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