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Symptoms of Ebola include
Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to
Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
Sex and Ebola
The Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to 3 months. People who recover from Ebola are advised to
abstain from sex or use condoms for 3 months.
Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover
from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.
Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the
Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees).
Ebola is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. There are five identified Ebola virus
species, four of which are known to cause disease in humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan
ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus
(Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not
Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is
now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown. However, on the basis of evidence and the nature of similar
viruses, researchers believe that the virus is animal-borne and that bats are the most likely reservoir. Four of the five
virus strains occur in an animal host native to Africa.
Because the natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses has not yet been identified, the manner in which the virus first
appears in a human at the start of an outbreak is unknown. However, researchers believe that the first patient becomes
infected through contact with an infected animal.
When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through
direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body
fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with
Ebola objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus infected animals
Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a
result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that
mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes)
have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
Diagnosing Ebola in an person who has been infected for only a few days is difficult, because the early symptoms, such
as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola infection and are seen often in patients with more commonly occurring diseases, such
as malaria and typhoid fever.
However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and has had contact with the blood or body fluids of a person sick
with Ebola, contact with objects that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, or
contact with infected animals, they should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Samples from the patient
can then be collected and tested to confirm infection.