Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
What is Ebola?
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is caused by the Ebola virus. Symptoms can include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Severity of illness ranges from very mild disease to severe hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola virus.
Is Ebola virus easy to contract?
No. In fact, Ebola Virus Disease is not transmitted through the air or casual contact. Transmission occurs only through direct contact with the bodily fluid of an infected person and exposure to objects, such as needles and specimens that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
During outbreaks of Ebola, those at highest risk include family and friends and healthcare workers who have had physical contact with an infected individual.
Can Ebola be transmitted through the air?
No. Ebola is not a respiratory disease like the flu, so it is not transmitted through the air. However special airborne precautions are used while patients are undergoing certain types of medical procedures that can generate aerosols (i.e., “aerosol-generating procedures”). Some examples include performing a bronchoscopy procedure, placing an endotracheal tube, and using positive pressure ventilation.
Can I get Ebola from contaminated food or water?
No. Ebola is not a food-borne illness. It is not a water-borne illness.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Early Ebola symptoms are also symptoms of other viral infections. Early symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, cough, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because these could be symptoms of other diseases, it's difficult to diagnose Ebola early on. Specific tests for antibodies against Ebola and viral DNA help doctors make a conclusive diagnosis.
Can I get Ebola from a person who is infected but doesn’t have any symptoms?
No. Individuals who are not symptomatic are not contagious. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with an individual who is experiencing symptoms.
What is South Shore Hospital doing to protect patients, visitors and staff in the event someone arrives at the hospital showing signs and symptoms of Ebola virus?
We are confident our Health System and community are at low-risk and unlikely to see a confirmed case of the disease, however, we take the concern for EVD very seriously. For several months, our EVD Preparedness Team—consisting of expert representation from many areas throughout the organization has been discussing and strategizing all aspects of care and logistics related to managing EVD.
Our plans to respond with proper care include routine screening of all patients in the Emergency Department, Birthing Unit and outpatient locations—asking specific questions about travel history so we can identify any patient who may be at risk for exposure to Ebola; specific, hands-on training to ensure everyone is comfortable with putting on, using and taking off Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In addition, those units are now conducting drills related to the Ebola plan to ensure we are on the pathway to readiness.
If a patient were to be at risk for exposure to Ebola, a plan to care for and isolate the patient has been developed. The CDC has also created a dedicated Response Team that can be sent to any hospital with a confirmed case of Ebola, within hours to assist through hands-on, expert support and training on infection control, health care safety, medical treatment, waste and decontamination, public education and more.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
South Shore Hospital