Ebola virus disease is a serious disease that normally causes death. Between 50 and 90% of people with Ebola will die. It is most common in Africa.
Ebola has been featured in the news a lot recently, but do not worry, the NHS say no one in the UK has been diagnosed with it, and the chances of it spreading in the UK is low.
Ebola was first identified in Africa in the 1970s. In March this year, there was another serious outbreak in Africa. 670 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Stage 1 of symptoms
- Joint and muscle pain, or muscle weakness
- Sore throat
Stage 2 of symptoms
- Stomach pain
- Kidney and liver problems
- Internal bleeding
- Bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose or mouth
Symptoms start very quickly, normally in the first week after contamination.
There are no treatments or vaccines for Ebola. People who are infected need to be looked after in intensive care in isolation, and kept hydrated intravenously. Oxygen levels in the blood and blood pressure may need to be regulated.
How do the outbreaks start?
Researchers think that fruit bats, chimpanzees and gorillas carry the infection. When people touch the contaminated animals, or eat contaminated meat, they catch the disease. Ebola spreads if a healthy person:
- touches infected blood, body fluids (poo, wee, sick) or organs of a contaminated person
- has unprotected sex (doesn’t wear a condom) with a contaminated person
- caring for a contaminated person, touching them or their medical equipment, including needles, that haven’t been sterilized. Doctors and nurses are at high risk.
If a person doesn’t have any symptoms, normal touching including shaking hands, is unlikely to spread the disease.
Tips for staying safe if you are travelling:
- Don’t touch dead animals or raw meat
- Don’t touch infected people
- Don’t have sex with people in an area where Ebola is common
- Wash hands regularly and properly
- Wash fruit and veg before eating, and make sure you peel it.
Unless you have been travelling in contaminated areas in Africa, it is unlikely that you will get Ebola. If you think you have it, speak to a healthcare provider immediately.
Flight crew are trained to respond quickly if they think a passenger on a plane from Africa has Ebola, so you do not need to worry about this.[clear-line]
For further information, latest update or advice, please click NHS Choices