Ebola Virus Disease
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease most commonly affecting people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees).
Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks have occurred sporadically in Africa. The natural reservoir host of Ebola viruses remains unknown. However, based on the nature of similar viruses, experts think the virus is animal-borne, with bats being the most likely reservoir.
There is no approved vaccine or treatment for EVD. Research on EVD focuses on finding the virus' natural host, developing vaccines to protect at-risk populations, and discovering therapies to improve treatment of the disease. Learn more about EVD by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
How the virus initially infects a person is unknown. However, experts think the first patient becomes infected through contact with an infected animal such as a fruit bat or nonhuman primate. Outbreaks of EVD occur through person to person transmission. People can be infected with the Ebola virus through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:
- Blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, semen) of a person who is sick with or has died from EVD
- Objects (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and syringes) contaminated with body fluids from a person sick with EVD or a body of a person who died from EVD
- Blood or body fluids of infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates such as apes and monkeys
- Semen from a man who recovered from EVD (through oral, vaginal, or anal sex)
Ebola virus cannot spread to others when a person has no signs or symptoms of EVD. Additionally, the virus is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. However, in certain parts of the world, Ebola virus may spread through the handling and consumption of bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food). There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of EVD may appear 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus, but the average is 8 to 10 days. A person infected with Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear. Signs and symptoms of EVD include:
- Severe headache
- Muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Unexplained bleeding or bruising
Cases & Outbreaks of EVD
Ebola viruses are found in several countries. Past EVD outbreaks have occurred in the following countries:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- Ivory Coast
- Republic of the Congo (ROC)
- Sierra Leone
For more information about EVD cases and outbreaks visit the CDC website.
Evaluating Travelers / Patients for Ebola Virus Disease
Early recognition of EVD is critical for infection control. Healthcare providers should be aware of current EVD outbreaks and evaluate patients for travel and risk of exposure. A person who has both consistent signs or symptoms and risk factors as follows should be considered a Person Under Investigation (PUI):
- Elevated body temperature or subjective fever or symptoms, including severe headache, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage
- An epidemiologic risk factor within the 21 days before the onset of symptoms
Clinicians can refer to CDC's FAQs on Screening for Ebola Virus Disease for Providers, Healthcare Facilities and Health Departments. If a diagnosis of EVD is being considered, the patient should be isolated in a single room (with a private bathroom), and healthcare personnel should follow standard, contact, and droplet precautions, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Infection control personnel should be contacted immediately.
If EVD is suspected, contact the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline 877-427-7317 immediately for consultation, indication for and coordination of testing, and the need for initiating identification of contacts.
Resources for Healthcare Workers
- Biohazardous Waste Storage at Generating Medical Facilities Guidance (PDF)
- KDHE #ThinkTravelHistory
- Kansas Ebola Virus Preparedness and Response Plan (PDF)(Updated March 12, 2019)
- KDHE Waste Management Guidelines for Ebola Response (PDF) (Updated October 20, 2014)
- Ebola Waste Management in Kansas Flowchart (KDHE) (PDF)
- Clinician Resources for Person Under Investigation (PUI) of Ebola Virus Disease:
- CDC Infection Control Recommendations for Healthcare Settings
- CDC Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals
- CDC Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transportation, Testing and Submission
Information for Travelers
Visit CDC's Traveler's Health website on Ebola Virus Disease to learn more about traveling safely.
Additional Information & Contact Information
For more information about Ebola visit the CDC website.
Submit your questions regarding Ebola response in Kansas, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or other concerns about Ebola to the Infection Disease and Epidemiology Response email. To report a person under investigation of EVD contact the 24/7 KDHE Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.