Educate Yourself
With the Ebola outbreak, once thousands of miles away, now reaching the United states it is important to educate yourself about the virus. Ebola is an extremely virulent disease, but its impact pales in comparison to other global killers like measles, AIDS, or even the flu. It isn’t a particularly contagious disease, you cannot get it from air, water or food. We are also emphasizing that there is no risk of spreading the disease from people who have been exposed to the virus but are not yet showing symptoms.
Mode of Transmission
When an infection does occur in humans, the virus can be spread in several ways to others. Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucus membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:
  • Blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
  • Infected animals
  • Objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
What does direct contact mean? Direct contact means that body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine, or feces) from an infected person (alive or dead) have touched someone’s eyes, nose, or mouth or an open cut, wound, or abrasion.

Symptoms of Ebola include:
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe headache
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of sick patients.

Ebola Treatments
No FDA-approved vaccine or medicine (e.g., antiviral drug) is available for Ebola. Symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear. The following basic interventions, when used early, can significantly improve the chances of survival:
  • Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
  • Providing intravenous fluids (IV)and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
  • Treating other infections if they occur
Experimental vaccines and treatments for Ebola are under development, but they have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus. Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

Additional Resources

All information on this page has been compiled through the coordination of the Cape May County Health Department, Cape May County Office of Emergency Management, Cape Regional Medical Center, Cape May County EMS Coordinator, CBRNE Coordinator. Information is also available on the Health Department Hotline at 609-463-6581.