Ebola (Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever)

Ebola (Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever) is also known as Ebola virus disease (EVD) and is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. Ebola is caused by a virus and is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and animals, such as bats, monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. More

2014 West Africa Outbreak

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. To date, it has affected four countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. CDC is working with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, and other domestic and international partners in an international response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. More

In 2014, four U.S. healthcare workers who were infected with Ebola virus in Liberia later recovered after transported to hospitals in the United States for treatment. Two of the patients have recovered and been released from the hospital after laboratory testing confirmed that they no longer have Ebola virus in their blood. Though some U.S. healthcare workers have become infected with the Ebola virus while caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, no one has become infected with Ebola within the United States or in Rhode Island, and no person-to-person spread of Ebola has ever happened in the U.S.

All travelers to regions with reported Ebola outbreaks should consult CDC travel advisories before traveling and follow CDC recommendations for precautions.

The CDC also continues to provide updated guidance for healthcare workers in Africa and in U.S. healthcare facilities.

At-Risk Populations

People who come in direct physical contact with the bodily fluids of a live or deceased person or animal who is sick with, or who has died from, the Ebola virus are at risk of getting infected. Healthcare workers and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they are most likely to come in contact with infected blood or body fluids while caring for those with EVD. More


Ebola only spreads when people are having symptoms of the disease. Symptoms usually begin suddenly 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8-10 days is most common. Some people who become sick with Ebola are able to recover with the proper care, which includes fluid replacement and close monitoring by trained medical staff.

Symptoms of Ebola may include:

  • Fever (greater than 38.6 degrees C or 101.5 degrees F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal(stomach)pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising


How It Spreads

Ebola is a virus that is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids (blood, vomit, feces, urine, saliva, breast milk, sweat, semen) of someone who is sick with Ebola symptoms, or who has died from Ebola. Virus in these fluids can enter the body through hand to mouth contact, rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth after coming in contact with any bodily fluids, or through sexual contact. A person infected with Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

People can also get infected by handling objects carrying the virus, such as healthcare workers who accidentally get stuck while handling a dirty needle, or hunters, cooks, and others who handle or eat bush meat from animals found in West Africa that have been infected (such as monkeys, bats, forest antelope, chimpanzees, and gorillas). More


For Travelers

All travelers to regions with reported Ebola outbreaks should consult CDC travel advisories before traveling. Follow CDC guidelines for taking personal precautions, including postponing travel whenever recommended and possible for you. If you must travel, follow these recommendations to prevent infection:

  • Do not touch people with signs of, or who have died from, Ebola.
  • Do not touch clothes or bed clothes of anyone who has been sick with, or who have died from, Ebola.
  • Do not touch touch body fluids of anyone who has been sick with or died from Ebola. This includes blood, vomit, feces, urine, saliva, breast milk, sweat, semen.
  • After a person has recovered from Ebola, the virus can stay in a man's semen for three months after symptoms have gone away. This means that a man should not have sex for three months after he is fully cured of EVD.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. If you need to go to the hospital, call the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country you are in and they should be able to provide you with advice on facilities.
  • Don't handle or eat bush meat from wild animals from Africa (such as monkeys, bats, forest antelope, chimpanzees, and gorillas).

After you return:

  • Watch for symptoms of Ebola for 21 days after returning from West Africa. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches and pains, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and lack of appetite. Some people may experience less common symptoms such as: rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and bleeding inside and outside of the body.
  • Call a doctor immediately if you have fever or other symptoms of Ebola within those 21 days of returning from travel. When you call, tell them that you have recently traveled to West Africa so they know how to help you. If you don't have a doctor, go to the closest urgent care medical center or emergency room, or call 911 if you need an ambulance. No matter who you call or where you go, always call before you get there to let them know where you have recently traveled. This will help them take care of you better.
  • If someone in your family gets sick, try to avoid contact with his or her body fluids (such as blood, vomit or diarrhea). Wash your hands with soap and water often after caring for, or cleaning up after, someone who is sick with Ebola symptoms.


For Families with Ties to Outbreak Regions

When speaking, emailing, or writing to family and friends overseas, share everything you know about how Ebola is transmitted and how it can be prevented. Encourage them to see a doctor whenever they are sick and to allow visiting health officials in their homes. Mixed information is circulating in affected countries, and you can help your friends and family be safe by telling them the correct information and encouraging them to seek help if they are at risk. More

For Healthcare Professionals

If you are a healthcare professional going to an affected country to assist with outbreak control, or you would like specific guidance, consult CDC guidance for healthcare workers in Africa and in U.S. healthcare facilities and follow all advice above. Many more resources, including preparedness checklists, follow below under "Publications and Resources."

Print this CDC poster for staff: Sequence for Removing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Testing & Diagnosis

If a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and there is reason to believe that EVD is a possibility (for example, the patient recently returned from travel to a region with an Ebola outbreak, and/or had close contact with an Ebola patient), then the following procedures should be followed:

  • The patient should be isolated as soon as possible.
  • Healthcare providers should immediately contact HEALTH to report a suspect case (401-222-2577).
  • Laboratory samples from the patient should be collected and tested to confirm infection. Refer to the links below for detailed Guidance and information how to submit lab specimens.

  • For Healthcare Providers

    More resources follow below under "Publications and Resources."


    Ebola does not have a known, proven treatment. Standard care for EVD patients is limited to treating the symptoms as they appear and supportive care by trained healthcare professionals. This includes balancing fluids and electrolytes, maintaining oxygen and blood pressure, and treatment for any complicating infections. Treatments are in development by several companies, but are not are not widely available because they have not gone through the standard FDA approval process, which involves important tests for safety and effectiveness. During this current outbreak, the FDA has advised consumers to be aware of products sold online claiming to prevent or treat the Ebola virus. More

    Timely medical care for those with Ebola symptoms is important. If a person develops symptoms of EVD and has recently traveled to one of the affected countries or has had contact with an EVD patient, the person should call a doctor immediately and report their symptoms and any risk factors, especially recent travel to one of the affected countries. More

Publications & Resources

For EMTs

For Funeral Directors

For Healthcare Administrators

For Healthcare Providers





For Healthcare Workers




For Laboratorians

For Nurses

For Parents

For Patients and Caregivers

For Pregnant Women

For Public

For Public Health Professionals





For Refugees

For School Nurses