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Interim Guidance - August 2014


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a rare and deadly disease. The disease is native to several African countries and is caused by infection with one of the ebola viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, or Tai Forest virus). It is spread by direct contact with a sick person's blood or body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.

Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.

Who is at risk?

The primary way that the Ebola virus is transmitted is through direct contact with blood or body fluids of someone who has contracted or has died from Ebola, sick wildlife, or meat from an infected animal. Contact with bodily fluids includes sexual contact with patients up to seven weeks after they have recovered. Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with an ill person are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.

Casual contact in public places with people who do not appear to be sick will not transmit Ebola. The Ebola virus cannot be transmitted by handling money, groceries or in a swimming pool. Mosquitoes do not transmit the Ebola virus and the virus cannot be contracted through food, water or air.

What can travellers do to prevent Ebola?

While there is no ban on international trade or travel, non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should be postponed indefinitely or until the outbreak has been deemed to be under control. Travellers to Nigeria should practice enhanced precautions.

If you must travel to an area where Ebola Virus Disease has been reported, seek information about the current Ebola situation before you travel and remain aware of up-to-date information. Assemble a travel health kit including a thermometer and a personal supply of surgical masks. Please make sure to do the following:

  • Practice strict and frequent hand washing routines with soap and water at all times. An alcohol based hand sanitizer may also be used.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids, such as urine, saliva, vomitus or stool. 
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Avoid sexual contact with persons who have had Ebola up to seven weeks after they have recovered.
  • Avoid contact with animals or with raw meat.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes.
    • Limit your contact with other people when you travel to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else. Pay attention to your health after you return.
  • Monitor your health for 21 days after you return if you were in an area with an Ebola outbreak, especially if you were in contact with blood or body fluids, items that have come in contact with blood or body fluids, animals or raw meat, or hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.
  • Call your doctor immediately if you develop fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes.
  • Tell the doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms before you go to the office or emergency room. Advance notice will help the doctor care for you and protect other people who may be in the office.

Key facts

  • Ebola Virus Disease is rare.
  • Infection is by contact with blood or body fluids of an infected person or an animal infected or by contact with contaminated objects.
  • Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.
  • Cases of Ebola have recently been confirmed in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
  • Persons who come into direct contact with body fluids of an infected person or animal are at risk.
  • There is no licenced vaccine.
  • Practice careful hygiene, such as frequent hand washing with soap and clean water or an alcohol based santizer.
  • Avoid all contact with blood and body fluids of infected people or animals.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • If you stayed in the areas where Ebola cases have been recently reported call your doctor if you feel sick (fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes).