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.
  • From October 17, 2014 to December 29, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) of travelers arriving from the West African countries where Ebola outbreaks were either active (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea), or believed to be highly possible (Mali).
  • As of December 29, 2015, all impacted countries have passed more than two incubation periods since the last patient with confirmed Ebola tested negative for the virus twice. People who have traveled to impacted countries are no longer required to be under 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. During the outbreak, three countries had widespread transmission of Ebola: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Several other countries were also affected on a smaller scale, with less than 20 cases in each country. These previously affected countries include: Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. Since October of 2014, CDC has been working with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, and other domestic and international partners in an international response to the outbreak.

Since the summer of 2014, a small number of U.S. healthcare workers who were infected with the 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, 2014. Subsequently, two healthcare workers who provided care for the Dallas patient tested positive for Ebola, but made full recoveries.

All people planning to travel internationally should consult CDC travel advisories before traveling and follow CDC recommendations. The CDC also continues to provide updated guidance for healthcare providers working in facilities in the U.S. and international settings.

At-Risk Populations

  • Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients
  • Family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients
  • People who have come in contact with objects (clothes, bedding, needles, etc.) that have been contaminated with body fluids from a person with Ebola
  • People who have had sexual contact with men who are Ebola survivors More
  • Symptoms

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

    Symptoms of Ebola include:

    • Fever
    • Severe headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Weakness
    • Fatigue
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal (stomach) pain
    • 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 (such as needles, clothing, etc.) carrying the virus. The virus can spread if the body fluids from an infected person have touched a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or an open cut, wound, or scratch.

    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 are available 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 someone with Ebola, the person should immediately contact the Rhode Island Department of Health at 401-222-2577, or after hours at 401-276-8046. If a person has Ebola-like symptoms and there is reason to believe that Ebola is a possibility (see risk factors) 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 concerning proper precautions for patient care of a person suspected of having Ebola. more

    Patient Care

    Currently, there is no known, proven treatment for Ebola. Supportive care occurs in an assessment hospital or a designated Ebola and Other Special Pathogens Treatment Center. Supportive care is given by trained healthcare professionals and includes balancing fluids and electrolytes, maintaining oxygen and blood pressure, and treating for any complicating infections. Treatments are in development by several companies, but are not widely available because they have not yet gone through the standard FDA approval process, which involves important tests for safety and effectiveness. 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 internationally, or had contact with someone with Ebola within the last 21 days, and they are not at an assessment hospital, RIDOH staff will arrange for transportation to an assessment hospital, where laboratory testing and further evaluation will be performed. More