Ebola: What You Should Know

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Vaccine News

Recent reports of a severe Ebola outbreak in Africa as well as treatment of infected individuals in the United States have led to many questions and concerns among parents and other community members. While the current situation continues to change and be updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this information is meant to provide you with some basic information about the virus and its transmission.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a virus that can cause disease in people and in non-human primates. A recent large outbreak in Africa has caused concern for spread throughout the world.

What are the symptoms of Ebola virus infection?

People infected with Ebola virus often suffer from fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding or bruising. It can take up to 21 days after exposure to develop symptoms.

How is the virus spread?

Ebola is not spread as easily as some other infections. The two main ways to catch it are contact with infected wildlife (mostly in wild animals or bats in Africa) or by exposure to blood or bodily fluids of infected people, like saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk or urine. In addition, it is important to understand that only people who are symptomatic can transmit the disease.

Who is at risk?

Because the disease is not spread through the air, typically only those in close contact with an infected person, such as caregivers or family members in the home who come in contact with body fluids are at increased risk.

Is there a vaccine?

No. Vaccine trials are being conducted in Africa where healthcare givers can volunteer for the trials.

How can my family stay healthy?

Unless you are traveling to Africa or are in contact with someone who has come from a country in Africa where Ebola virus is spreading, it is currently unlikely that you will be exposed to this virus.

You can stay up-to-date on cases of Ebola and the CDC’s efforts to track any cases in the U.S. by visiting: www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html.

Ebola-related resources

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.