What are the Symptoms of Ebola, and How can it be Prevented?

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or just Ebola, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus species. The disease is spread to people from animals, and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission (read more).

Symptoms of Ebola

Ebola symptoms typically appear within 2 to 21 days after becoming infected. Although people with the infection are not contagious during the incubation period, they become infectious as soon as symptoms begin to appear. Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Sore throat

Over time, symptoms become increasingly serious and may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Red eyes
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Bleeding from any side of the body

Complications of Ebola

Everyone’s immune systems can respond differently to Ebola. Some may recover from the virus; others may face complications. While some complications can last for a few weeks to several months, other complications can be deadly. These include:

  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Eye inflammation
  • Sensory changes
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  • Delirium
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Severe bleeding
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Shock
  • Coma

Prevention

There is no vaccine available to prevent Ebola. The key in preventing outbreaks is to avoid transmission from animals to humans and between humans. The following precautions can help prevent infection and spread of Ebola:

  • Handle all animals and their waste with gloves and other protective clothing.
  • Cook animal products thoroughly before eating. Avoid eating bush meat i.e. meat from wild animals.
  • Isolate any person suspected of being infected with Ebola, to prevent contact with other people.
  • Avoid having direct contact with the blood and body fluids of an infected person.
  • Avoid touching items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
  • Those taking care of infected patients, especially health care professionals, should wear protective equipment, including face masks, goggles, gowns and gloves.
  • Dispose of needles carefully and sterilize all medical equipment.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that involve handling the body of a person who died from Ebola.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer.
  • The best way to avoid catching the infection is by not traveling to areas where the virus is found (mainly Central and West Africa).