Ebola: What You Need to Know

Nigeria health official display a leaflet explaining Ebola Virus Disease at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Nigerian authorities on Monday confirmed a second case of Ebola in Africa's most populous country, an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 700 people. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Ebola is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease. Sporadic cases and outbreaks of Ebola have been reported throughout Africa. No cases of human illness have ever been diagnosed or spread within the U.S.

Ebola is NOT readily transmitted through the air from person to person like the flu or common cold. Rather, it is transmitted by contact with the blood and other body fluids (such as vomit, urine and stool) of an ill person. So it’s unlikely that someone would catch Ebola from simply being on the same plane or in the same public space with someone who was affected.

The countries in Africa struggling with Ebola have limited resources and a lack of modern medical care or facilities. This is one of the main reasons health care workers are having difficulty getting the outbreak under control.

If someone with Ebola came to the U.S., it is unlikely it would turn into an outbreak like in West Africa. That is because the U.S. has a strong health-care infrastructure.

Modern hospitals use procedures to prevent the disease from spreading, and public health officials would work to identify those at risk of infection to prevent them from spreading it to other people.

The Virginia Department of Health has a plan in place to work with its partners in the event a suspected case of Ebola is reported in the state.

Still, Ebola is serious and health officials are working with health care providers to make sure that travelers returning to the U.S. who could possibly have the virus are quickly identified, and that disease control measures are quickly put into place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people not to travel to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, if at all possible.

More information: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/

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