Facts about Ebola

Ebola is an infectious disease marked by fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and unexplained bleeding. Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola, or with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus. In Africa, people can also contract Ebola by eating or touching infected animals, usually bats or primates.

There is some overlap of symptoms between influenza (flu) and Ebola. This could potentially lead to confusion or false alarms as the flu season approaches. Although both flu and Ebola can present with high fever, flu typically presents with respiratory symptoms (cough, sneezing, congestion) while Ebola does not.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, food. Catching Ebola requires direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected, symptomatic person. A person who has Ebola cannot spread it to others unless he or she has active symptoms. Ebola is NOT contagious during the incubation period (before an infected person develops symptoms).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has indicated that Ebola does not currently pose a significant risk to the general U.S. population. To further reduce the risk of incoming travelers introducing Ebola into the U.S., the CDC has implemented strict screening and monitoring of all travelers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa where the disease is controlled (currently Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea). Still the California Department of Public Health reports that although the risk of the spread of Ebola to California remains low, it would not be surprising to eventually see a case of Ebola in California due to our the number of visitors who travel to our state from abroad. Fortunately, the above mention screening and monitoring policies should greatly lower the risk of Ebola spreading in any community.