Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola Virus Disease)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Quick GuideEbola Virus: Outbreak, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ebola Virus: Outbreak, Symptoms, and Treatment

What types of health care professionals treat Ebola hemorrhagic fever?

Because Ebola infections can be rapidly spread to others and because health care workers can be easily infected by patients, the CDC and other agencies recommend that only highly trained personnel treat Ebola patients. This treatment involves high-level barrier techniques to protect all health care professionals (hospital care workers, nurses, doctors, lab technicians, janitors, and hospital infectious-disease-control personnel). Unfortunately, these trained individuals and resources are often not available in the Ebola high risk areas. Ideally, individuals diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. should be treated in specific designated treatment centers and treatment monitored by the CDC. Types of specialists who may treat Ebola-infected patients are emergency medicine specialists, infectious disease specialists, critical care doctors and nurses, pulmonologists, hematologists, hospitalists, and hospital infection-control personnel.

What is the contagious period for the Ebola virus?

For those patients who survive infection, they may remain contagious for approximately 21-42 days after symptoms abate. However, the viruses can be recovered from semen, breast milk, spinal column, and ocular fluids. It is unclear, according to the CDC, if viruses can be transmitted by these fluids, although the CDC suggests that Ebola can be spread by semen and suggest male survivors of the disease abstain from sex or use a condom for all sexual activity.

What is the incubation period for the Ebola virus?

Ebola virus disease symptoms and signs may appear from about two to 21 days after exposure (average incubation period is eight to 10 days). It is unclear why some patients can survive and others die from this disease, but patients who die usually have a poor immune response to the virus. Patients who survive have symptoms that can be severe for a week or two; recovery is often slow (weeks to months) and some survivors have chronic problems such as fatigue and eye problems.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2017

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