Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe and often fatal illness that affects humans and non-human primates such as apes, monkeys and chimpanzees. Ebola virus disease causes severe bleeding in infected persons, organ failure and can lead to death. It is caused by infection with one of five known Ebola virus species.
- The virus is transmitted to humans through close contact with the blood secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found ill or dead in the forest.
- Human to human transmission occurs through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, or with surfaces and materials (eg. Clothing, bedding) contaminated with these fluids.
- Direct contact with the body of a person who has died from Ebola can also lead to the transmission
Signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease may appear from 2- 21 days after exposure to the virus and usually include:
- Headache and sore throat
- Joint and muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Lack of appetite
- Internal and external bleeding (eg. Blood in the stool, oozing from the gums etc)
Preventive measures against the disease include the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer
- Avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids such as urine, feces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids
- Do not handle items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids
- Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
- Avoid contact with bats and nonhuman primates or blood, fluids, and raw meat prepared from these animals.
- Avoid sexual contact with semen from someone suspected to have a had Ebola until you know the virus is not present in his semen anymore
- Report immediately to the nearest health facility if you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above.