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Frequently Asked Questions on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Frequently Asked Questions on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

2017-05-26
  1. What is EVD?
  2. How is EVD transmitted?
  3. What kind of bodily fluids can transmit EVD?
  4. Can EVD be transmitted through the air?
  5. Can I get EVD from food or water?
  6. Can I get infection from an infected person who does not have any symptoms?
  7. Will I get infection from someone through social contact like shaking hands or hugging?
  8. Is air travel safe?
  9. Is it safe to eat meat from wild animals?
  10. If someone recovers from EVD, can he or she still spread the disease?
  11. How is EVD prevented?
  12. What is the treatment for EVD?

Disease information

1.  What is EVD?

EVD is a severe, often fatal illness, with a death rate of up to 90%. Patients may have fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash or bleeding within 21 days after getting the infection.

Transmission

2.  How is EVD transmitted?

Ebola virus is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. It then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact, either through broken skin or mucous membranes (e.g. eyes, nose and mouth), with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. Sexual transmission has also been reported.

3.  What kind of bodily fluids can transmit EVD?

Bodily fluids of an infected EVD patient like blood, vomitus, urine, faeces, sweat, semen, saliva, etc. can transmit the disease.

4.  Can EVD be transmitted through the air?

No. EVD is not a respiratory disease like seasonal influenza or tuberculosis, so it is not transmitted through the air.

5.  Can I get EVD from food or water?

No. EVD is not a food-borne illness, nor a water-borne illness. However, food must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

6.  Can I get infection from an infected person who does not have any symptoms?

No. Patients become contagious once they begin to show symptoms. In order for the virus to be transmitted, an individual would have to have direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected person who is experiencing symptoms or indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.

7.  Will I get infection from someone through social contact like shaking hands or hugging?

If a person does not have symptoms, he or she is not infectious and thus will not spread EVD through social contact. However, a patient may spread the disease to others when they have symptoms. If you have broken skin or your mucous membranes (e.g. eyes, nose and mouth) come into contact with the blood, other bodily fluids or secretions of the infected person, you may get infected.

8.  Is air travel safe?

The risk of EVD transmission on airplanes is low. Unlike infections such as seasonal influenza or tuberculosis, EVD is not airborne. It can only be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with the bodily fluids of a person who is sick with the disease. Usually when someone is sick with EVD, they are so unwell that they cannot travel.

9.  Is it safe to eat meat from wild animals?

Some fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead in the rainforest. Members of the public are advised not to eat meat from wild animals (bush meat), meat of unknown origin or other related food products. Besides, food must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

10.  If someone recovers from EVD, can he or she still spread the disease?

People remain infectious as long as their blood, secretions or bodily fluids contain the virus. According to World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention US, Ebola virus has been found in the semen of some Ebola survivors and it is possible that the virus could be spread through sex or other contact with the semen. It is not known how long Ebola virus would persist in the semen, and it appears that the time for clearance of virus from semen varies among individuals. However based on the study findings to date, it is evident that the viral load decreases over time and eventually the virus leaves the semen. According to WHO recommendations, all Ebola survivors and their sexual partners should either abstain from all types of sex or only practise safe sex including correct and consistent condom use for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen has twice tested negative.

Prevention

11. How is EVD prevented?

There is no licensed vaccine to prevent EVD yet. To prevent the infection, you should observe good personal and environmental hygiene, always remember to use liquid soap or alcohol-based handrub to clean your hands before touching the eyes, nose and mouth; wound should be properly disinfected and covered. Avoid close contact with feverish or ill persons, and avoid contact with blood or bodily fluids of patients, including contaminated objects. Avoid contact with animals. Cook food thoroughly before consumption.

Management

12. What is the treatment for EVD?

There is currently no specific treatment for EVD. Patients must be managed in isolation facilities to prevent the spread of the infection. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care in a hospital. Some patients will recover with appropriate supportive care.