5 Ebola Facts We Want You To Know

Ebola virus is in the news because of the current outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. You may have never heard about Ebola before, but right now it’s a hot topic. The current outbreak is in the news because of deaths. The risk of Ebola in the U.S. is very, very low. Because of better hospital care in the U.S., I believe treatment will save many lives.

Here at Nationwide Children’s, you’ll soon see signs asking families to notify the receptionist immediately if within the past 21 days you have traveled to the places mentioned above or if you have had contact with someone suspected to have Ebola AND have any of the symptoms.

Here are 5 things you need to know to better understand Ebola.

1. What is Ebola? The Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. This is a severe, often fatal disease in humans in countries with limited health care. Ebola is caused by infection and symptoms usually begin abruptly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first Ebola virus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically.

2. How does it spread? You can’t get Ebola through the air. You can’t get Ebola through water. You can’t get Ebola through food. You can only get Ebola through touching bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola or from exposure to contaminated objects such as needles. Ebola spreads more like HIV (blood, body fluids), than flu (respiratory). It may be possible to spread this virus by sexual activity.

3. What are the symptoms? A fever of 101.5 or higher, headache, joint/muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola though 8-10 days is most common.

4. How am I protected here at Nationwide Children’s? Our hospital is fully equipped and prepared to handle any infectious disease. While Ebola is very deadly, transmission is well understood. With proper planning, we can dramatically decrease the risk to our patients, families and staff. Preparation is the key and we are on top of that. At Nationwide Children’s, our advantage is we have good infection control practices and supplies are ready if there is a suspected case.

5. Stay educated. Instead of letting the attention Ebola is getting create fear and panic, arm yourself with the facts. The CDC offers great, easy to understand information, especially on their Questions and Answers to Ebola page.


Dennis Cunningham, MD
Dennis J. Cunningham, MD, is a member of the Section of Infectious Diseases at Nationwide Children's Hospital and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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