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.
  • People are not contagious until they show symptoms.
  • In Rhode Island, only people who have been in impacted areas of West Africa in the past three weeks are at risk of developing Ebola.
  • Since October 17, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began notifying the Department of Health of travelers arriving from the West African countries where Ebola outbreaks are active (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea).
  • As outbreaks are contained within an impacted country, the direct, active-monitoring protocols for travelers arriving in the U.S. from those countries have been modified.
  • As of January 6, 2015, people who have traveled to Mali are no longer subject to enhanced screening and active monitoring. As of June 17, people who have traveled to Liberia will no longer adhere to direct, active monitoring. more

2014-2015 West Africa Outbreak

The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first in West Africa. Currently, there is widespread transmission in two countries in West Africa: Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal have also reported cases but these countries do not have wide spread transmission and Mali, Nigeria and Senegal are Ebola free. 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.

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 travel to areas where an there is a current ebola outbreak or people who have in direct physical contact with returning travellers, including healthcare providers. More


Symptoms usually begin suddenly anywhere from 2-21 days after exposure, although 8-10 days is most common. Ebola is contagious in a person who is experiencing these symptoms.

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, someone who has died from Ebola or sexual contact (semen) with someone who has recovered from Ebola. People can also get infected by handling objects carrying the virus. 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.

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 United States. More


Currently, there is no FDA-approved vaccine or cure for Ebola. If you travel to an affected country or have contact with Ebola patients, follow CDC guidance and recommended precautions. more

Prevention and recommended precautions for specific audiences on the Publications & Resources page.

Testing & Diagnosis

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 immediately contact the Rhode Island Department of Health at 401-222-2577, or after hours 401-272-5952. 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 precautions for patient care of a person suspected of having Ebola. more

Patient Care

Ebola does not have a known, proven treatment. Supportive care occurs in a maximum infection control setting and is limited 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