In light of the suspected but unconfirmed Ebola case here in Ireland, we would like to share with you a relevant Q&A on the Ebola virus, containing the protocols for avoiding the spread of the virus.
Ebola Q & A
What is Ebola?
•Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a highly contagious and severe illness.
•Ebola first appeared in 1976. The origin of the virus is unknown, but fruit bats are considered the likely hosts.
How is Ebola spread?
•Ebola is spread through close contact with bodily fluids of an infected person: blood, sweat, urine, stool, saliva and semen.
•It can also be spread through indirect contact with contaminated areas, such as soiled clothing or bed
linens or used needles.
•Ebola is NOT spread through the air. A person must have come into direct contact with a person who
show symptoms of Ebola to get the disease.
•Corpses infected with Ebola are highly infectious, placing funeral attendees at risk for catching the
Who is most at risk?
•family members or others in close contact with infected people;
•mourners who have direct contact with the bodies of the deceased as part of burial ceremonies.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
•Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle and joint pain, headache and sore throat are the first signs.
•This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases,
internal and external bleeding.
•The incubation period (time from infection to onset of symptoms) is from 2 to 21 days. The patient is
contagious once they begin to show symptoms. They are not contagious during the incubation period.
•Ebola symptoms are similar to malaria and cholera (fever, vomiting and diarrhea). If you or someone you know has been in an area known to have Ebola virus disease or in contact with a person known or
suspected to have Ebola and they begin to have symptoms, they should seek medical care immediately.
•Ebola virus disease infections can only be confirmed through laboratory testing.
How is Ebola treated?
•There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine to treat Ebola.
•Patients are often dehydrated and require oral or intravenous (IV) fluids and are given medication to help stop bleeding and pain.
•To help control the spread of the virus from person to person, people who are suspected or confirmed to have Ebola are placed in isolation from other patients and treated under strict safety precautions by
health care workers.
•Because the incubation period for Ebola is from 2 to 21 days, family and friends of infected, or potentially infected people, may be monitored for up to 21 days as a precaution.
•An infected person has a greater chance of surviving Ebola if they seek medical treatment early at the first signs and symptoms of the disease.
•To help control further the spread of the virus, both people that are suspected or confirmed to have the disease should be isolated from other patients and treated by health workers using strict infection control
Does everyone infected with Ebola die?
•Although many people die from Ebola, some people are able to fight the disease off with the help of
professional medical care.
•Survivors of Ebola are NOT contagious. However, men who have recovered from the illness can still
spread the virus to their partner through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery. For this reason, it is important for men to avoid sexual intercourse for at least 7 weeks after recovery or to wear condoms if they do.
•If in question of your symptoms, it’s always better to be cautious and seek medical attention. This
protects Ebola from spreading to family and friends in the early stages.
•The sooner you get medical help, the greater your chances of survival.
How can I prevent myself and others from getting Ebola?
•If you suspect someone close to you or in your community of having Ebola virus disease, encourage and support them in seeking appropriate medical treatment in a care facility.
•Wash your hands frequently with hot water and soap, especially after using the bathroom and during
•Do not eat animals you find dead in the wild, or handle any dead animal. Meat should be cooked
thoroughly before eating.
•Inform others around you of the signs and symptoms of Ebola, and encourage anyone who looks or feels ill to seek medical treatment as early as possible.
Can I catch Ebola from a person who has died from it?
•Yes. DO NOT handle or touch the bodies of people who have died from Ebola. Seek professional help.
•Avoid attending funerals of people who have died from Ebola. The body is still highly infectious. If you
must attend, do not touch anyone, especially the deceased person. Wear long sleeves and pants to help protect yourself.
Why do health care workers wear masks, gloves, and suits when treating people with Ebola?
•Health workers treating patients with suspected or confirmed illness are at higher risk of infection than
•Health care workers must wear special protective clothing to help prevent them from getting sick, too.
•Anyone who is handling patients or people who have died from Ebola needs to wear this protective
clothing. Only let professionals handle people who have died from the disease.
•Although the sight of some of the protective clothing and equipment can be frightening, remember that inside those protective suits are normal people who are helping sick people get better