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.

Ebola Virus Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideEbola Virus Pictures Slideshow: Outbreak, Symptoms, and Facts

Ebola Virus Pictures Slideshow: Outbreak, Symptoms, and Facts

What is the treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever?

According to the CDC and others, standard treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever is still limited to supportive therapy. Supportive therapy is balancing the patient's fluid and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating such patients for any complicating infections. Any patients suspected of having Ebola hemorrhagic fever should be isolated, and caregivers should wear protective garments. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola hemorrhagic fever according to the CDC. However, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Providing intravenous fluids (IV) and balancing electrolytes (body salts)
  • Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure
  • Treating other infections if they occur

Patients diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. are sent to special hospitals (Contact the CDC immediately for information for experimental vaccines, treatment protocols, and patient care and/or transfer to an appropriate facility). Experimental medical treatments of Ebola infections include immune serum, antiviral drugs, and supportive care in an intensive-care hospital facility approved by the CDC to treat Ebola infections.

What are complications of Ebola hemorrhagic fever?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever often has many complications; organ failures, severe bleeding, jaundice, delirium, shock, seizures, coma, and death (about 50%-100% of infected patients). Those patients fortunate enough to survive Ebola hemorrhagic fever still may have complications that may take many months to resolve. Survivors may experience weakness, fatigue, headaches, hair loss, hepatitis, sensory changes, and inflammation of organs (for example, the testicles and the eyes). Some may have Ebola linger in their semen for months and others may have the virus latently infect their eye(s).

Male patients may have detectable Ebola viruses in their semen for as long as six months after they survive the infection. Researchers consider the chance of getting infected with Ebola from semen is very low; however they recommend utilizing condoms for six months.

It is apparent that we don't know everything about Ebola infections. A physician who was thought to be cured of Ebola, Dr. Ian Crozier, in fall 2014 developed burning light sensitivity in his eyes. He returned to Emory University where he was treated and after several tests he was found to have Ebola infection in his eyes. However, only the fluid removed by needle from his eyes showed viable virus; his tears and the outer membrane of his eyes had no detectable virus. Consequently, doctors considered the patient not to be able to spread the virus. One of the complications was that his blue eye color turned green. Fortunately, for Dr. Crosier, treatment with steroids and antiviral agents allowed his eyes to return to normal. This unusual circumstance has suggested that follow-up eye exams are likely to be important in patients who survive Ebola infections.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/13/2015
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