|Fact sheet No 103: Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever - Revised December 2000 (WHO, 2000, 3 p.)|
· The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or semen of infected persons. Transmission through semen may occur up to seven weeks after clinical recovery, as with Marburg haemorrhagic fever.
· Transmission of the Ebola virus has also occurred by handling ill or dead infected chimpanzees, as was documented in Cd'Ivoire and Gabon.
· Health care workers have frequently been infected while attending patients. In the 1976 epidemic in Zaire, every Ebola case caused by contaminated syringes and needles died.
Incubation: 2 to 21 days
Symptoms: Ebola is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, limited kidney and liver functions, and both internal and external bleeding.
Diagnosis: Commercially unavailable specialized laboratory tests on blood specimens detect specific antigens and/or genes of the virus, isolate the virus in cell culture or detect IgM and IgG antibodies. These tests present an extreme biohazard and are only conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.