Ebola Virus Infection: Transmission, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 21 April 2021

Table of Contents :

  1. Ebola Virus
  2. Transmission
  3. Symptoms
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Treatment
  6. Prevention
  7. After Ebola
  8. Controlling an Outbreak

Ebola Virus


Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, and, in certain cases, internal and external bleeding. The Ebola virus is divided into five strains. In humans, four of them cause the disease. Ebola virus first appeared in Africa in 1976 during two outbreaks. The Ebola River, which is near one of the villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the disease first appeared, gave the disease its name.


The immune system and tissues are harmed as the infection passes across the body. As a result, the number of blood-clotting cells decreases. Extreme, uncontrollable bleeding results as a result of this. 


Ebola hemorrhagic fever was the previous name for the outbreak, although it is also recognised as Ebola virus. Ebola infection kills up to 90% of those who become infected.


There are five strains, four of which may cause illness. It destroys cells after it enters the body, causing some cells to explode. It wreaks havoc on the immune system, induces internal bleeding, and destroys almost any organ in the body. 


The virus is deadly, but it is also rare. It may only be contracted after coming into close contact with an affected person's bodily fluids.

Since 1976, there have been 33 Ebola outbreaks, but the outbreak in West Africa in 2014 is by far the biggest. Thousands of people have been affected with the infection, with more than half of them dying. Guinea was the starting point, and it quickly spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.



Ebola isn't as infectious as diseases like the common cold, pneumonia, or measles. Touch with the skin or body fluids of an infected species, such as a rat, chimp, or fruit bat, transmits the disease to humans. Then it passes from one human to the next in the same manner. Many that look for a disabled individual or bury someone that has died from the illness are at a higher risk of contracting it. 


You will only get Ebola from anyone who has the infection and is showing signs. It is transmitted to others by bodily fluids. The main contagious materials are blood, stool, and vomit, although it can also be seen in semen, urine, sweat, tears, and breast milk. 


You'd need to have these fluids in your mouth, nose, eyes, genitals, or a split in your skin to have Ebola. It's even possible to get it from objects that have fluids on them, such as needles or infected surfaces.


Ebola cannot be contracted by the air, water, or food. An individual with Ebola who has no signs is therefore unable to transmit the disease.


Ebola cannot be contracted by casual interaction, such as sitting next to an infectious human. The virus is not carried in the air, food, or water. Kissing or sharing food or drink with someone who has Ebola, on the other hand, may put you at risk of getting their saliva in your mouth.



Ebola symptoms can occur anywhere from 2 to 21 days after diagnosis, although they normally appear within 8 to 10 days. Symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

If the condition progresses, it produces internal bleeding as well as bleeding from the eyes, ears, and nose. Some patients will spit or cough up blood, get severe diarrhea, and develop a rash as a result of the infection.




It may be difficult to know whether anyone has Ebola only from looking at their signs. Doctors can conduct tests to rule out the presence of other diseases such as cholera or malaria. 


Ebola may also be diagnosed with blood and tissue tests. 


If you get Ebola, you will be isolated and quarantined from everyone right away to keep the disease from spreading.




Ebola has no definitive treatment, though researchers are researching it. 


The FDA authorised Inmazeb, a combination of three monoclonal antibodies (atoltivimab, maftivimab, and odesivimab-ebgn), to treat the Zaire strain of Ebola in children and adults in October 2020. Ebanga (ansuvimab-zykl) is a monoclonal antibody that is offered as an injection. It aids in the blocking of the virus's path to the cell receptor, stopping it from entering the cell. 


Doctors treat Ebola symptoms with the following treatment protocols:

  • Fluids and electrolytes
  • Oxygen
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Blood transfusions
  • Treatment for other infections



While there is an Ebola vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV (Ervebo) only treats the Zaire strain of the virus. Avoiding exposure to places where the infection is present is the only approach to stop contracting the disease. 


If you're in an Ebola-affected environment, stay away from bats, monkeys, chimps, and gorillas, as these animals will transmit the disease to humans. The World Health Organization will be able to provide you with the vaccine. 


When working around patients who could have Ebola, health care staff can wear masks, gloves, and goggles to avoid infection.


Other vaccinations that might prevent Ebola are being researched, but more people need to be tested to see whether they're safe and effective.


The easiest approach to prevent contracting Ebola is to avoid places where the infection is prevalent. If you're in an outbreak area, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid infected people, their body fluids, and the bodies of anyone who has died from the disease.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals, like bats and monkeys, and avoid consuming their meat.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soop and warm water.

Once you leave the area, keep a close eye on your health for the next 21 days and seek medical attention immediately if you have any symptoms.


After Ebola


Ebola patients have antibodies in their blood that will shield them for up to ten years against the same strain of the virus. However, no one knows if the other strains will make them ill. 


While it's uncommon, the Ebola virus may remain in a man's semen for up to three months after he recovers, so they can avoid sexual intervouse or use a physical barrier, like a condom, to avoid infecting anyone. After recovery, the virus will remain in breast milk for up to two weeks, so women should not breastfeed during that period.


Controlling an Outbreak

Any individual who might have had interaction with an infected person is traced by trained public health workers. They keep an eye on each of those individuals for 21 days. If anyone exhibits symptoms of Ebola, medical personnel will test them, treat them, and isolate them away from others. The staff then track down anyone the individual has come into contact with them. Stopping Ebola from spreading is the goal.


Referenced on  10.4.2021

  1. World Health Organization: “Ebola Virus Disease."
  2. CDC: “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever," “Transmission," “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever: Treatment," “Facts About Ebola," “Questions and Answers on Ebola."
  3. Amesh Adalja, MD, Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
  4. Mayo Clinic: “Ebola virus and Marburg virus: Treatments and drugs."
  5. CNBC.com: “Merck’s Ebola vaccine helps combat deadly outbreak in the Congo as the virus spreads."
  6. Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Ebola
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  9. Emory University
  10. Journal of Infectious Diseases
  11. Nebraska Medical Center 
  12. World Health Organization
  13. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ebola-fever-virus-infection 

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