7 things to know about the Ebola virus

WABC logo
Monday, October 13, 2014

NEW YORK -- Here are seven facts from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control about Ebola and how it is spread.

1. EBOLA VIRUS HAS BEEN CONTRACTED INSIDE THE UNITED STATES. Dallas nurse Nina Pham is the first American to contract the ebola virus in the United States. Pham caught ebola while treating the first man to bring the virus into the U.S.

2. EBOLA VIRUS CAUSES A VIRAL HEMORRHAGIC FEVER DISEASE. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebola, though eight to 10 days is most common.

3. WEST AFRICA OUTBREAK NOW LARGEST IN HISTORY. The current outbreak in the neighboring countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has sickened more than 1,300 people and killed hundreds since March. The outbreak is unusual for West Africa as the disease is typically found in the center and east of the continent.

4. SOME PEOPLE HAVE SURVIVED EBOLA. While the fatality rate for Ebola can be as high as 90 percent, health officials in the three countries say people have recovered from the virus and the current death rate is about 60 percent. Those who fared best sought immediate medical attention and got supportive care to prevent dehydration even though there is no specific treatment for Ebola itself.

5. EBOLA CAN LOOK LIKE OTHER DISEASES. The early symptoms of an Ebola infection include fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. It can be difficult to distinguish between Ebola and malaria, typhoid fever or cholera. Only in later stages do people with Ebola begin bleeding both internally and externally, often through the nose and ears.

6. EBOLA IS ONLY SPREAD THROUGH CLOSE CONTACT. The Ebola virus is not airborne, so people would have to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. These include blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen - making transmission through casual contact in a public setting unlikely.

7. EBOLA IS NOT IN FOOD OR WATER. Ebola is not a food-borne illness. It is not a water-borne illness. You can't get it from something you eat or drink.

Learn more online at:

WHO: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html