Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a very severe disease. Between 55% to 80% of people who become infected may die. Currently, there is no approved vaccination for Ebola. Ebola outbreaks most often occur in remote villages in Central and West Africa. There have been no cases of Ebola reported in British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada.

How does the Ebola virus spread?

  • The Ebola virus originates in wild animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, and monkeys. It can then be spread to humans through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals.
  • The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person or through casual contact.
  • You can only catch Ebola if you have direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with infected body fluids such as: blood, sweat, saliva, vomit, urine or faeces.
  • Those infected with Ebola are only contagious once they begin to show symptoms.
  • People with Ebola are most infectious during the late stages of the infections when they are very ill.

Ebola is not transmitted through the air. Ebola is not transmitted in food or water. As long as precautions are taken, the risk of getting Ebola is very low.

What are the symptoms of Ebola?

Ebola symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the virus. Initial symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe headache
  • Rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Redness of the eyes

For more information about Ebola, including who is at risk for exposure, how the infection is diagnosed and treated, how the spread of Ebola can be prevented, and more, see HealthLinkBC File #117 Ebola Virus Disease.

How do I know if I have been exposed to Ebola?

You can only catch Ebola if you have had direct contact with infected body fluids. This includes bloods, sweat, saliva, vomit, urine, and faeces. If you have recently travelled from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, or the Democratic Republic of Congo and have concerns about Ebola, read the Public Health Agency of Canada handout Have YOU travelled from Africa recently?

If you have recently travelled from one of the countries listed above, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Ebola, and you have any symptoms associated with Ebola, contact HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, your health care provider or local medical health officer as soon as possible.

For travel health notices related to Ebola, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada Travel Health Notices web page.

What is British Columbia doing to prepare for possible Ebola cases?

For answers to frequently asked questions about Ebola and British Columbia, including the risks to the B.C. public, what systems are in place to prevent Ebola from coming to B.C., and more, visit the featured and useful websites listed below, or visit the Provincial Health Services Authority Ebola FAQs web page.

To read the latest updates and alerts about Ebola and other health issues, visit our Public Health Alerts – Most Recent web page. This page contains the most recent alerts from all regions and sources in British Columbia, to ensure you have quick access to the latest public information that may affect you and your family.

Your Health Authority

For Ebola related information from your health authority, click on the links below.

For Health Care Workers

Health care workers who are working with infected patients and laboratory workers working with the Ebola virus are at higher risk of Ebola exposure. For information about what health professionals needs to know about Ebola, what happens if an employee is exposed to Ebola, how to do self-monitoring, and what happens if an employee has Ebola, visit the websites listed below.

For Ebola information for health care workers from the health authorities, where available, visit the websites listed below.

Useful Websites

BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. They provide provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, prevention and consultation. For information from the BCCDC about Ebola, click on the link below.

Government of Canada

For information about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, including causes, symptoms, risks, treatment, prevention and surveillance, or to read the Government of Canada news release about Ebola vaccine trials, click on the links below.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides leadership on global health matters, including monitoring and assessing health issues such as Ebola, providing technical support to countries, and setting norms and standards. To learn more about Ebola, visit the WHO fact sheet on Ebola virus disease.

Last Reviewed: March 3, 2015

The information provided in the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Health Feature has been adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet Ebola virus disease, accessed July 29 2014, the Fraser Health Ebola health topic, accessed October 20 2014, the BCCDC Ebola Overview, accessed October 21 2014, and the Public Health Agency of Canada handout Have YOU travelled from Africa recently?, accessed October 24 2014.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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