Ebola - what you need to knowNew York State has an Ebola information line (800) 861-2280 to answer questions about Ebola. This service is free and trained operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This line is for public health information purposes only. If you require medical attention, call your health care provider or 9-1-1 immediately. 

Although Ebola can be scary, there is no need to panic. Here's a quick summary of what you need to know about ebola. The CDC also provides more information on commonly asked questions regarding Ebola and minimizing your risk here, along with a list of the top ten things you really need to know about Ebola. If your child has questions about Ebola and you are not sure how to answer them, this fact sheet on how to discuss Ebola with children can help. 

What is Ebola?
Ebola is an infectious, and often fatal, disease that is characterized by fever and severe internal bleeding.

What are Ebola’s symptoms?
Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

Symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to the Ebola virus, but 8-10 days is most common. Know the difference between the flu and Ebola.

Who is at risk for Ebola?
People who may come in direct contact with infected blood or body fluids of sick patients, such as:

  • Those who have travelled to places with widespread Ebola activity.
  • Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients
  • Family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients

What should I do if I think I have Ebola?
If you meet the risk criteria outlined above and have symptoms consistent with Ebola, call your doctor to determine if you should go to a hospital for testing.

How is Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread through direct contact with:

  • Bodily fluids (blood, vomit, sweat, feces, urine, saliva or other fluids) of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
  • Objects contaminated with the virus such as medical equipment and needles.
  • It is believed that the first patient in an outbreak becomes infected through contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate (apes and monkeys). Experts do not believe that pets are at significant risk for Ebola in the United States.
  • Is Ebola spread through droplets?

Direct contact means the infected fluids, object or animal comes into contact with an uninfected person’s eyes, nose, mouth or open cut on the body. Ebola is NOT spread through the air, food or water. See why the CDC believes that ebola is not likely to become airborne. Ebola can also only be spread after symptoms begin. Check out this CDC fact sheet on how Ebola is spread.

How is Ebola treated?
There is no definitive treatment for Ebola. Ebola treatment currently consists of supportive care, such as maintaining hydration and blood pressure.

What’s happening with Ebola in Africa?

  • On 12/29/15, the WHO declared Guinea, the last country experiencing Ebola transmission, to be Ebola-free. The country has now entered a 90 day period of heightened surveillance.
  • The Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in December of 2013 and it went on to become the largest Ebola outbreak in history.
  • During the two year outbreak, Ebola affected three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • The strain of Ebola virus in the outbreak was fatal in up to 70 percent of cases.
  • The spread of the disease was thought to have continued due to a combination of factors. They include a lack of local healthcare capacity, misinformation about the virus, and cultural practices—such as unique burial customs—that help spread the virus.

The good news: West Africa has been declared Ebola free. Regular updates on the West Africa Outbreak can be found on the CDC’s website.

How did the US help with the response?

The CDC is worked with national and international partners to respond to the outbreak in West Africa and to take precautions at home in the US.This response included:

  • Enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity in states to detect cases.
  • Developing guidance and tools for health departments to conduct public health investigations.
  • Providing recommendations for healthcare infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread.
  • Providing guidance for flight crews, Emergency Medical Services units at airports, and Customs and Border Protection officers about reporting ill travelers to CDC.
  • Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travelers, and public health partners.
  • CDC employees have been sent to West Africa to help with the outbreak. Read about what they are doing.

Want to learn more?