Ebola

For general Ebola questions call the HEALTH Information Line at 401-222-8022 / RI Relay 711.

Ebola, also known as Ebola virus disease, 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

What Rhode Islanders Should Know

  • There are no cases of Ebola in Rhode Island.
  • In Rhode Island, only people who have been in West Africa in the past three weeks are at risk of developing Ebola.
  • Since October 17, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has notified HEALTH of travelers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea where Ebola outbreaks are active in West Africa.
  • On November 17, 2014 the CDC also began notifying HEALTH about travelers from Mali. HEALTH conducts active daily monitoring for Ebola symptoms for these travelers. Monitoring will continue for 21 days from date of departure from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. More
  • People are not contagious until they show symptoms.

2014 West Africa Outbreak

The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. Currently, there is widespread transmission in three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Nigeria and Senegal have also reported cases but these countries have not seen widespread transmission and are now Ebola free. Most recently, Mali has had a few confirmed cases. CDC is working with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other domestic and international partners in an international response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Since the summer of 2014, a small number of U.S. healthcare workers who were infected with Ebola virus in West Africa later recovered after being transported to hospitals in the United States for treatment. On September 30, 2014, CDC confirmed the first travel-associated case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States, involving a patient who traveled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas and passed away on October 8. Subsequently, two healthcare workers who provided care for the Dallas patient tested positive for Ebola and fully recovered.

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 providers working in facilities in the U.S. and in Africa.

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 Ebola. More

Symptoms

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 degrees C or 100.4 degrees F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal(stomach)pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising more

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

Ebola is not spread through: casual contact, air, water, or food grown or legally purchased in the United States. Household pets are not at significant risk in the U.S.

Prevention

In Rhode Island, prevention guidance and recommended precautions are available for:

Testing & Diagnosis

If a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and there is reason to believe that Ebola 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 are followed:

  • The patient is isolated as soon as possible.
  • Laboratory samples from the patient are collected and tested to confirm infection.
  • Healthcare providers and public health professionals follow CDC guidance for proper patient care, isolation, contact tracing, symptom monitoring, and monitoring pf travelers from outbreak areas. more

Patient Care

Ebola does not have a known, proven treatment. Supportive care occurs in a maximum infection control setting and islimited to treating the symptoms as they appear. Trained healthcare professionals provide care to balance fluids and electrolytes, maintain oxygen and blood pressure, and treat for any complicating infections. Treatments are in development by several companies, but are not are not widely available because they have not yet 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.

Timely medical care for those with Ebola symptoms is important. If a person develops symptoms of Ebola and has recently traveled to one of the affected countries or has had contact with an Ebola patient, the person should call 9-1-1 for transport to a hospital emergency room. Tell the front desk staff, nurse, and doctor about all symptoms and any risk factors, especially recent travel to one of the affected countries. More