WHERE EBOLA OCCURS
Ebola was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, several small outbreaks have occurred in Africa. The 2014 outbreak is the largest. Countries affected in this recent outbreak include:
- Sierra Leone
Ebola has also been reported in:
- United States
Most of these cases are due to people traveling from a country where Ebola is present. In October 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared both Nigeria and Senegal free of Ebola virus transmission.
As of November 2014, there have been 4 people diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. One case occurred in a man traveling from West Africa to Texas. He died from the disease. Two health care providers who cared for the man also contracted Ebola. A doctor who had treated Ebola patients in Guinea returned to New York City and was diagnosed with Ebola after developing symptoms. All three health care providers have recovered and no longer have the Ebola virus.
HOW EBOLA CAN SPREAD
Ebola does not spread as easily as more common illnesses such as colds, the flu, or measles. There is NO evidence that the virus that causes Ebola is spread through the air or water. A person who has Ebola CANNOT spread the disease until symptoms appear.
Ebola can ONLY spread between humans by direct contact with infected body fluids including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen. The virus can enter the body through a break in the skin or through mucous membranes, including the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Ebola can also spread by contact with ANY surfaces, objects, and materials that have been in contact with body fluids from a sick person, such as:
- Bedclothes and bedding
- Needles and syringes
- Medical equipment
In Africa, Ebola may also be spread by:
- Handling infected wild animals hunted for food (bushmeat)
- Contact with blood or body fluids of infected animals
- Contact with infected bats
Ebola does NOT spread through:
- Insects (mosquitoes)
Health care workers and people caring for sick relatives are most at risk for developing Ebola because they are more likely to come in to direct contact with body fluids.