Ebola Virus Disease

What is Ebola 

Ebola virus disease, also called ebola or EVD, is a rare, deadly illness that typically infects humans and other primates, such as monkeys. There are occasional outbreaks, usually on the continent of Africa. 

Risk of infection

Those at highest risk of infection are healthcare workers who do not use proper infection control while caring for someone infected with ebola, as well as family and friends who are in close contact with someone who is infected with ebola.

There is little risk to the general public who have not been in close contact with or provided care to someone with ebola. However, travelers to and from areas experiencing outbreaks should be aware of how it spreads, how to prevent infection, and what symptoms to watch for if they may have been exposed.

How it spreads

Ebola spreads through direct contact with the blood, other bodily fluids, or body tissue from infected people or animals. 

This can happen when someone touches infected fluids or when they touch something that has been contaminated, such as bedding or clothing. The virus then enters the body through breaks in the skin or when someone touches near their eyes, nose or mouth. 

The virus also can spread through sexual contact and can be found in semen even after recovery from the illness.


Symptoms of ebola do not generally appear right away if someone is infected, and an infected person does not spread ebola until they have symptoms. It can take between 2 and 21 days after contact with the virus for someone to show symptoms. 

There are other, more common illnesses that have similar symptoms to ebola, particularly the early symptoms like fever, fatigue or sore throat. These symptoms are not cause for alarm unless you know you have been in close contact with someone who has ebola.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Aches and pains, such as severe headache and muscle and joint pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding or bruising
  • Other symptoms may include red eyes, skin rash, and hiccups (late-stage)


Ebola is a rare disease. If you are living in or traveling to a region that is experiencing or has experienced an ebola outbreak:

  • Avoid contact with blood, urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, amniotic fluid, semen, and vaginal fluids of people who are sick.
  • Avoid contact with items that may have been contaminated by bodily fluids of an ill person. This could include clothing, bedding, needles, or medical equipment.
  • Avoid contact with semen from men who have recovered from ebola, until testing shows the virus is no longer present.
  • Avoid funeral or burial practices that involve touching the body of someone who died from or may have died from ebola virus disease.
  • Avoid contact with the blood, fluids, or raw meat prepared from unknown animals or from bats, forest antelopes, or non-human primates such as monkeys. This may also be referred to as bushmeat. 

After returning from an area experiencing an ebola outbreak, people should monitor their health for 21 days and seek medical care immediately if they develop any symptoms.

Public health preparedness

Local public health has multiple planning efforts around ebola, in coordination with the healthcare system, first responders, and other partners. 

Ebola requires direct contact to spread. The key to controlling the spread of illness is to identify possible cases early and isolate them from others. Then, the people they’ve had contact with while contagious must be contacted so they can be monitored for illness. Systems and personnel are in place for this work if there were to be a case in Washington.


Providers in the county should receive health alerts by email. The alerts are also posted online:

Health care providers can request to be added to our distribution list by emailing kbray@snohd.org. Please send with the subject “Request to be added to Health Advisories” and include your name, job title, affiliation and the best email address to receive advisories.