Skip to main content

Ebola Virus Disease

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is Ebola virus disease (EVD)?

EVD is a life-threatening disease caused by a virus. EVD was first diagnosed in West Africa. People from other countries have also been diagnosed with EVD.

How is EVD spread?

A person with EVD must have symptoms to be contagious (able to spread the virus). EVD is not spread through air, water, or food. The virus spreads through a break in your skin or mucus membranes in your eyes, nose, or mouth. You may get the virus through direct contact with any of the following:

  • A sick person's blood or body fluids, such as urine, saliva, sweat, bowel movement, vomit, semen, or breast milk
  • Items that have been contaminated with the virus, such as clothes, linens, needles, and syringes

What are the symptoms of EVD?

Symptoms may appear 2 to 21 days after you are exposed to someone who has symptoms of EVD. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you have been in contact with someone who has EVD and you have the following:

  • A sudden fever higher than 100.4°F along with any of the following:
    • Fatigue
    • Diarrhea
    • Severe headache
    • Muscle pain and weakness
    • Abdominal pain
    • Vomiting
    • Bleeding or bruising that cannot be explained

How do I protect myself against EVD?

  • Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use soap and water. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers, for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Teach children how to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch blood or body fluids of people who are sick. Do not handle items that may have touched a sick person's blood or body fluids. Fluids include urine, bowel movements, saliva, vomit, semen, and sweat. Items include clothes, linens, needs, or syringes.
  • Practice safe sex. Always use a latex condom. An infected man's semen will need to be tested for the Ebola virus. He must have 2 negative tests before he can have sex without a condom. Handle used condoms carefully so the semen does not touch anyone. Throw the used condom away. Make sure no one will accidentally touch it after it is in the trash.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Is there an EVD vaccine?

An Ebola vaccine has been approved by the FDA. The vaccine is given as a shot in your shoulder one time. You may need the vaccine if you are an adult at high risk for exposure to EVD. You may be at high risk if:

  • You are planning to travel to an area where Ebola is active.
  • You are responding to an outbreak of EVD.
  • You work as healthcare provider at an EVD treatment center.
  • You work in a laboratory with the Ebola virus.

Contact your doctor or local health department if:

You have been in contact with someone who has EVD. You may need to be placed in quarantine.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Learn more about Ebola Virus Disease

Treatment options

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.