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by Scholten A

Definition

Ebola is a rare, life-threatening, viral infection. It is found in humans and animals. It needs care right away.

Causes

The infection is caused by ebolaviruses. The viruses pass between people through contact with:

  • Blood, feces, or vomit from an infected person
  • Infected animals such as fruit bats, rodents, apes, or monkeys
  • Objects that are contaminated with the virus

The viruses enter the body though breaks in the skin. They can also enter the eyes, nose, or mouth.

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Risk Factors

Ebola is most common in central Africa. The risk is higher for those who live in or travel to that area.

The risk is highest for those who:

  • Work in health care
  • Live with infected people
  • Handle infected animals
  • Share infected objects, especially needles

Symptoms

Common symptoms of Ebola are:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Rash
  • Red eyes
  • Bleeding

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms, travel and health history. A physical exam may be done. Ebola is diagnosed by blood tests.

Treatment

Treatment is focused on life support. It involves giving:

  • IV fluids
  • IV electrolytes
  • Oxygen support
  • Blood pressure support

Prevention

Ebola may be prevented by:

  • Avoiding contact with people infected with Ebola
  • Not traveling during outbreaks
  • Wearing masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles
  • Not sharing or reusing needles

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  https://www.cdc.gov 

World Health Organization  http://www.who.int 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Alberta Health Services  https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/ 

Public Health Agency of Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

References

Ebola virus disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola. Accessed February 2, 2021.

Ebola virus disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ebola-virus-disease. Accessed February 2, 2021.

Ebola virus disease. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease. Accessed February 2, 2021.

Feldmann H, Sprecher A, et al. Ebola. N Engl J Med. 2020;382(19):1832-1842.

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