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Ebola

Also called: Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease

Summary

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is caused by a virus. It is a severe and often fatal disease. It can affect humans and other primates. Researchers believe that the virus first spreads from an infected animal to a human. It can then spread from human to human through direct contact with a patient's blood or secretions.

Symptoms of Ebola may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms usually include

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Lack of appetite

Other symptoms including rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding, may also occur.

The early symptoms of Ebola are similar to other, more common, diseases. This makes it difficult to diagnose Ebola in someone who has been infected for only a few days. However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and there is reason to suspect Ebola, the patient should be isolated. It is also important to notify public health professionals. Lab tests can confirm whether the patient has Ebola.

There is no cure for Ebola. Treatment involves supportive care such as fluids, oxygen, and treatment of complications. Some people who get Ebola are able to recover, but many do not.

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