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Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever

Pronounced: ee-BOWL-uh him-er-AH-gic FEE-ver

Definition

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe infection. It can have a mortality rate of up to 90%. The infection can occur in humans and animals.

Causes

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is caused by the Ebola virus. The virus can pass from person to person through blood or other bodily secretions. When these fluids come in contact with skin or mucus membranes the virus can pass and cause the infection. The virus can also pass through contaminated needles.

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Risk Factors

Travel to areas with known Ebola outbreaks increase your risk of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Almost all cases have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. No cases have been reported in the US.

Your chance of Ebola hemmorhagic fever also increases with:

  • Exposure to a healthcare setting that has treated a person with Ebola hemorrhagic.
  • Contact with another person who has Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
Symptoms

Symptoms of Ebola may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Red eyes
  • Hiccups
  • Internal and external bleeding

If you have any of these do not assume it is due to Ebola. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms and to the virus, your doctor will notify health officials. This will include the local health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To confirm the presence of the virus your doctor may order blood tests. These tests will help identify the virus itself and antibodies to the virus. Antibodies are signs that your body has identified and is fighting the virus.

Treatment

There is no cure. You will be isolated to prevent the spread of the disease.

Treatment is focused on supporting you while your body fights the infection. Treatment may include:

  • IV fluids and electrolytes
  • Oxygen and blood pressure support
  • Treatment for any complicating infections
Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting Ebola hemorrhagic fever, take the following steps:

  • Avoid traveling to an area that is experiencing an outbreak.
  • If you are a health care worker, wear protective clothing. This includes masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles.
  • Avoid reusing needles.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

World Health Organization
http://www.who.int

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References:

Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/ebola.htm. Accessed May 17, 2013.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/. Updated August 2012. Accessed May 17, 2013.

Questions and answers about Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/ebola/qa.htm. Updated July 17, 2009. Accessed May 17, 2013.



Last reviewed May 2014 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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