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Ebola Virus

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Ebola is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. The disease was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.

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Ebola in Texas

On September 30th, 2014, a Texas hospital patient tested positive for Ebola, making him the first case diagnosed in the United States. The man had developed symptoms of Ebola approximately four days after arriving in Dallas from Liberia. He passed away on October 8, 2014.

On October 12, 2014, a healthcare worker who provided care for the first patient tested positive for Ebola. The patient has since recovered.

On October 15, 2014, a second healthcare worker who provided care for the first patient tested positive for Ebola. The patient has since recovered.

Texas has had three confirmed cases of Ebola. Health officials closely monitored about 340 people who had contact with them to watch for symptoms. The last person was cleared from monitoring on November 7, 2014. No additional cases were diagnosed.

Transmission of Ebola

Ebola is spread through direct contact with a person or animal with Ebola. Direct contact includes contact with blood, secretions, or other body fluids, or exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles. Body fluids include blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen.

Ebola cannot be spread simply by being near someone who is infected. People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms.

Symptoms of Ebola

Symptoms usually appear 8 to 10 days after exposure, but may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure.

Symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Headache and joint and muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

Some patients may also experience rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, problems breathing, problems swallowing, or bleeding inside and outside the body.

Prevention of Ebola Transmission

Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food.

People should practice careful hygiene and avoid contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola.

Health care workers wearing personal protective equipment

Treatment

The severity of the disease varies, but more than 50% of patients with Ebola have died during past outbreaks. There is no cure or vaccine; however, some people can recover with intensive treatment in a hospital setting.

Travel

While the Dallas Ebola event has ended, health officials continue to monitor all travelers who return to Texas from countries with widespread Ebola outbreaks. More than 200 travelers since late October 2014 have been monitored for symptoms in Texas.

As of September 2015, the CDC urges travelers to avoid visiting Guinea or Sierra Leone due to ongoing outbreaks in those countries. In addition, following standard precautions is recommended when traveling to Liberia.