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Ebola: Separating fact from fear

Ebola Information

Ebola disease is caused by the Ebola virus and is one of a number of hemorrhagic fever diseases.

Ebola disease was first discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River. The largest Ebola outbreak in history is currently taking place in West Africa. Health officials at the state and federal level believe the risk of an outbreak in the United States is very low.

To help public health officials monitor for illness and keep it contained, people are encouraged to talk to their doctors if they have recently travelled to West Africa. Health care providers caring for Ebola patients and family and friends in close contact with an ill person are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.

For patients:

If you have traveled outside of the United States in the past 21 days and you are sick, please contact your health care provider before you go to the clinic or emergency department. Advance notice of your symptoms and travel history will help your provider care for you and protect others.

In addition, all patients visiting St. Charles hospitals and clinics will be asked about their recent travel history. Please be prepared to answer questions about travel and possible exposure to infectious diseases when obtaining services at our facilities.

Symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Fever (greater than 38.6°C or 101.5°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
  • Symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is eight to 10 days.

Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.