What Is Ebola? Symptoms, Transmission & Treatment

ebola virus outbreak

The first case of Ebola in the United States has been found, after a man flew from Liberia to Texas, infected with the virus that has killed more than 3,000 people in West Africa.

“We have a seven-person team in Dallas today helping to review that with the family and make sure we identify everyone that could have had contact with him,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in an NBC interview.

Ebola Virus Outbreak 2014: C.D.C. Announces First U.S. Case | The New York TimesDr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the infected individual came to the United States from Liberia. Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1v2uL54 Subscribe to the Times Video newsletter for free and get a handpicked selection of the best videos from The New York Times every week: http://bit.ly/timesvideonewsletter Subscribe…2014-10-01T00:44:36.000Z

The three EMS drivers who transported the infected man have tested negative for Ebola, and officials are assuring the public that this is not a public health crisis.

Monkey Meat and the Ebola Outbreak in LiberiaVICE News Exclusive: Part 1 of "The Fight Against Ebola" – http://bit.ly/Ebola-Part-1 West Africa is being plagued by a new outbreak of Ebola — a terrifying disease that causes its victims to bleed to death from the inside out. Ebola has no cure, and the latest epidemic is spreading fast. VICE News visited Liberia, where…2014-06-26T21:48:56.000Z

Nevertheless, the news of Ebola in America has fueled fears of an outbreak. Here’s what you should know about symptoms, transmission and treatment of the deadly disease.


Ebola Symptoms

These are the symptoms of Ebola, directly from the CDC:

Fever (greater than 101.5°F)
Severe headache
Muscle pain
Weakness
Diarrhea
Vomiting
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

Ebola, expressed as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is an often fatal illness in humans, with a fatality rate of around 50 percent. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine, but there are two potential candidates undergoing evaluation.

In an interview with Vice, Dr. Diane Griffin, chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, was asked about Ebola symptoms and said, “People get very rapidly ill with vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding — it’s a hemorrhagic [bloody] fever. I’m not sure that if you lined up a whole bunch of people with different diseases that you could necessarily pick it out.”


Transmission: How Is Ebola Spread?

The most important thing to know about Ebola is that it’s not spread through the air or water, and you cannot get it through food. Ebola is spread through bodily fluids — blood, urine, saliva, feces, vomit, semen — of a person or animal who has been infected with the virus. Studies confirm Ebola is not spread through the air.

In addition, the disease is not contagious before a carrier shows symptoms.

“Ebola doesn’t spread before someone gets sick, Ebola does not spread from someone who doesn’t have fever and other symptoms.” Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC said. An infected person does become more infectious the sicker they get.

According to the CDC, there have been some cases in Africa where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals that were hunted for the use of food, and through contact with infected bats.


Ebola Treatment: Can You Survive Infection?

According to the World Health Organization, the way to treat Ebola is:

Supportive care — rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids — and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No licensed vaccines are available yet, but two potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.

And from the CDC:

Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
Treating other infections if they occur

So there is no current cure for the virus, however the may have found effective Ebola treatment that is produced in genetically modified plants (GMOs). Called Zmapp, the drug was used in the successful treatment of infected Americans who were recently flown back to the United States for treatment.

However, Zmapp is not available for widespread use and will not be used to treat the infected patient in Dallas.

Ebola-infected Americans to return to U.S. for treatmentTwo American aid workers infected with Ebola in Liberia will be sent back for care at Emory University hospital in Atlanta — the first time any Ebola patient has been transferred to the U.S. for treatment. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, about containing the worst outbreak…2014-08-02T00:26:04.000Z