October 2, 2014 – The ebola outbreak in West Africa has received a great deal of attention in the news media recently. On September 30, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the first patient in the US to be identified with the disease. The patient had traveled from West Africa to visit relatives in the Dallas, TX area.
Ebola, while very deadly, is difficult to transmit to others. Transmission can only occur after someone is sick, displaying the signs and symptoms of the disease. The incubation period is between 2 and 21 days. Treatment includes strict isolation of the infected individual.
According to the CDC, you may suspect someone is infected with ebola if they have:
- Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal (stomach) pain
- Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
They have traveled recently to West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria or other countries where ebola transmission has been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO)) or have come into contact with someone who has within the previous 21 days.
If you call an ambulance to transport someone meeting both criteria, or bring them to a physician or emergency room, it is vitally important the information regarding travel to West Africa (or contact with someone who has) be provided to the medical personnel. The signs and symptoms of ebola can also indicate many other illnesses.
Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with:
- blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
- objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
- infected animals
- Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or food.
For more information on the disease, visit the CDC website.